The Cook-Off


5:30 pm Saturday, September 17th!

Does your family have a time-honored recipe for hoppin’ john? Do you like to get creative in thecookoff3 kitchen? Then the Hoppin’ John Cook-off just might be the perfect opportunity for you to show off your culinary talents. The rules are simple and the competition should make a tasty complement to all that pickin’ and grinnin’ going on down at the Carson’s Grove Stage.

First place winner will receive $50 & The Golden Skillet, second place – $35, Third place – $25

Business Special: First place winner will also receive a FREE COLOR QUARTER PAGE AD in the Spring 2017 Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival Program!

Cooking will commence at 11am on Saturday, Sept. 17. Contestants must register at the cookoff tent before 3:00, and serving/judging will begin around 5:30 pm

Judging will be by people’s choice. All who wish to sample the competing hoppin’ john entries will make a donation of $3 for a ballot and a spoon. Samples of each hoppin’ john entry will be served in individual cups or bowls, provided by the festival. Upon sampling all of the entries, tasters will mark their ballots.

allison cookoffHoppin‘ John is to be prepared on-site in the designated cooking area. One minor exception is that contestants using dry beans may soak them at home.

To qualify as hoppin’ john, all dishes entered must contain rice and black-eyed peas. Beyond that, you are encouraged to be creative with other ingredients and seasonings. While hoppin’ john traditionally contains pork, vegetarian variations are welcome.

A minimum of six quarts of hoppin’ john per entry is needed for judging. The more you make, the better chance you have at everyone getting to taste (and vote) for your dish.

Contestants bring their own ingredients and cookware (pots and pans, cutting boards,knives, spoons, spatulas, etc.) Let us know if you’re missing something, though, we can probably help out. We have extra camp stoves!

Contestants should also supply their own heat (propane camp stoves, butane burners, etc.) If you need a heat source, check in the pavilion early Saturday morning; we have additional stoves available.

Special Offer Continued for 2016: FREE SATURDAY ADMISSION. Once you have registered at the cook-off pavilion on Saturday and set up your cooking table, just walk over to the ticket booth for a refund on your admission ticket ($14. Does not include camping price).

What is Hoppin’ John?

Hoppin’ John is a tasty Southern dish made of rice, black-eyed peas, and a variety of other ingredients and spices, often including some sort of cured pork such as bacon, ham, or fatback. It is traditionally served at New Year’s for good luck, alongside greens, cornbread, and sometimes tomatoes. The tradition—some might call it superstition—holds that eatingthese foods on the first day of they year helps ensure that in the new year, one will have an abundance of the things they symbolize: coins (black-eyed peas), cash (greens), gold (cornbread), and health (tomatoes).

As for the name of the dish, it seems time has shrouded its origin in mystery. Some say the dish was first hawked in the streets of Charleston, South Carolina in the mid-1800s by a one-legged man known as Hoppin’John. Others maintain the name comes from the age-old tradition of Southern hospitality itself, where a visitor arriving at mealtime would be invited to “hop in, John”.

Some linguists suggest the name came from the French patois spoken in much of the Caribbean, where a dish of rice, peas, and salt pork called pois a pigeon, pronounced something like “pwahahpeejawng”, was popular. Over time, English speakers, pronouncing the name more or less phonetically, perhaps with a little humor, evolved it into “Hoppin’ John”. This explanation may be plausible as much of traditional Caribbean fare comes from African culinary traditions, having been brought along to the New World by those who came involuntarily as slaves. Once here, they adapted their recipes to use locally available ingredients.

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11th Annual Festival! September 14 - 16, 2017 at Shakori Hills in Silk Hope, NC