KINGSPORT — A friendly cook-off between students from culinary courses at Dobyns-Bennett High School ended in a dead heat at the Kingsport Farmers Market on Saturday, but everyone left a winner.
Led by instructor Aimee Knott, two teams of students — from Culinary Arts I and Culinary Arts II classes taught by Knott at DBHS — started the morning with a quick stroll among the dozens of stalls at the market, checking out the fresh produce offered by area farmers.
The vendors, for their part, donated a variety of vegetables and even some fresh sausage.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the students to work with seasonal produce and explore the wide range of culinary possibilities available right in our backyard,” Knott said. “And it gives them a chance to interact with the public in a situation where they get real, instant feedback on the food they prepare.”
Eight of Knott’s students participated in the non-mandatory activity: Destiny Bowman; Benjamin Dawson; Cody Goad; James Gulledge; Isabella Keen; Jacqueline Sisco; Jacob Vengchiem; and Ethan Wagenknecht.
After gathering the fresh ingredients, Knott turned the two teams loose to create one dish each and explain the process as it unfolded to passers-by.
The Culinary I team prepared a spicy vegetable stir-fry (cabbage broccoli, peppers, soy sauce and srirucha hot sauce), while the team from Culinary II prepared a sausage and vegetable soup (sausage, zucchini, squash, onion, mild peppers).
When both dishes were ready, out came the sample cups — and onlookers became judges. Voting seemed to boil down to a simple preference: spicy or not.
Spicy food lovers said both were good, but they’d give the stir-fry a slight edge. Ditto the folks who like to keep it a little more mild — thumbs up to both, but the soup thumb rose a little higher.
Voting stopped when food ran low and sample cups ran out.
“Today we’ve learned to bring more sample cups next time,” Knott said.