ASPIRING YOUNG CHEFS involved in the Cairo High School Culinary Arts Program, under the tutelage of Whitney Brown, right, were the stars of the show at the second annual Grady Grown banquet held in Whigham Saturday night.
The food of Grady County was put on lavish display Saturday for the second annual Grady Grown farm to table style dinner celebrating local agriculture.
Hosted by the Whigham Volunteer Community Council, Cairo High School’s culinary arts students designed and prepared the evening’s fare, which included a four-course meal. Despite it being fall break for the students, many were on hand to make sure the event went off without a hitch.
Held in the new Whigham Community Club building on the grounds of Rattlesnake Roundup, round tablecloth covered tables comfortably sat six diners each. Centerpieces of flower filled jars wrapped in burlap ribbon as designed by the culinary arts students decorated each table as the students served water and iced tea for guests.
The meal got underway with students presenting Hors D’oeuvres of fried okra topped with hot sauce and crumbled blue cheese, slow roasted pulled pork over a sweet corn muffin, and Hot Tar pepper jelly atop creamy cheese on a toasted baguette.
The salad course included roasted potatoes, orzo, field peas, corn, tomatoes and onions dressed with Pecan Ridge truffle oil vinaigrette topped with Cairo High School FFA grown microgreens.
Entree courses included a choice of beef or chicken. The pork skin crusted chicken entree included roasted potatoes, Hopkins Farms fried greens topped with Hot Tar pepper jelly sauce and FFA microgreens. The beef tenderloin medallion meal included mushroom orzo, Hopkins Farms fried greens topped with brown gravy and FFA microgreens.
Dessert was cinnamon pears mixed with pecans baked in a tart and topped with home-churned ice cream dusted with powdered sugar.
Among those enjoying the local delicacies were Rep. Darlene Taylor (R-Thomasville), Whigham Mayor George Trulock, Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard and Grady County commissioners, including Chairwoman LaFaye Copeland, and commissioners Phillip Drew, June Knight, Keith Moye and Ray Prince.
Sponsors and producers of the evening were Mr. Chick, Hot Tar Inc., Hopkins Farms, Hud’s Whigham, Whigham School FFA, Grady Market Produce, Pecan Ridge Plantation, Julie and David Stewart, Cuy Harrell Family Farms, Whigham Community Club, Cairo High School Culinary Arts Program and Whigham Volunteer Community Council.
Representative Taylor praised the organizers and the students and farmers who produced the food, and said she was proud to represent the area and to attend such a community oriented evening.
Trey Gainous, executive director of the Cairo-Grady County Chamber of Commerce and also a Whigham city councilman, thanked everyone for attending on behalf of the Whigham Volunteer Community Council. Gainous also praised the high school culinary arts program, under the direction of Mrs. Whitney Brown. When given an opportunity to speak, Mrs. Brown thanked the students for the hard work they had put into the evening.
Jane Trulock, chairperson of the Whigham volunteer council, said, “I would consider it a huge success again. I think the students did a great job . . . It’s all a learning experience. We learned a lot, just like we did last year.”
Although the evening is not currently a huge money maker for the community volunteer group, Trulock said any profits they realize will go towards continued improvements in downtown Whigham.
The volunteers had begun the day with the group’s second annual Harvest Hustle 5K, which saw a slight dip in participation, with about 70 runners, 15 fewer than last year, according to Trulock. She said the date for both the run and the dinner proved challenging this year with many people having conflicts. She said organizers will determine whether they want to change the date next year.
The group is already planning an upcoming poker run for motorcycles and antique vehicles on Oct. 19. The 40-mile ride will begin and end in Whigham. Long term plans include a turkey shoot on Nov. 16 and the annual Christmas in Whigham celebration on Dec. 3.
Other members of the council in addition to Mrs. Trulock are Demetrius Cox, Lisa Calhoun, Trey Gainous, Allie Gainous, Clarcia Avery, Sheli Ladner, Amy Fowler, and Doris Poppell.