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Best in beef

Eighteen students from across the county traveled to the A.W. Todd Center Friday to display their culinary masterpieces for the third annual Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association Beef Cook-off.

The cook-off consisted of a junior division for grades seven through nine and a senior division for grades 10-12. Russellville freshman Peyton Parrish took first place in the junior division for her beef enchiladas, and Phil Campbell senior Trinity Thomas took first place in the senior division for her steak and rice.

“I’m just kind of shocked because I have never done this before, so I am so happy,” Parrish said.

Thomas, who competed Friday for the first time too, said she was surprised to hear her name called for first place.

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but I didn’t really think I was going to place, to be honest,” Thomas said. “It’s just a thing I normally do back at home with my grandparents.”

Thomas, who used a family recipe for her dish, said it meant a lot to her to win with a dish her family has been cooking for generations. “When I get home, my Mamaw is going to be so proud.”

Parrish said she found the idea for her dish after a search through the popular website Pinterest. “I have always been a fan of Mexican food, so I thought this would be a great dish for me,” she added.

All family and consumer science classes in Franklin County were able to bring three students to compete in each division. Students were present from Russellville High School, Belgreen High School, Phil Campbell High School and Red Bay High School.

“They get to put into practice all of the culinary skills they have learned in their classes, and for us at the Cattlemen’s Association, it is a good opportunity to promote beef and our industry for some of these students who do not know as much about us,” said Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association past president Caleb Beason.

Students were required to prepare a beef-centered dish ahead of time to be judged on taste, appearance, ingredient list and incorporation of beef.

“This connects them back to the farm,” said Franklin County Cattlemen’s Association President Michael Pounders. “This gives them the chance to think about their food and where it comes from while seeing the different things you can do with beef.”

Parrish and Thomas will both have the opportunity to compete with their dishes at the state cook-off at Jefferson State Community College April 24.