Destin chef competes in Georgia

Special to The Log
Chef Jimmy McManus puts the finishing touches on his winning pork chops.

Emerald Grande Executive Chef Jimmy McManus cooked up a winning entree using a mystery box of ingredients, one cast iron skillet and one burner.

Competing in the “Cast Iron Chef” cook-off during the Third Annual Brooks County Skillet Festival in Quitman, Ga., McManus was one of three Florida chefs in the competition who competed against three from Georgia.

Chefs competed in heats to win the judge’s favor, with a winner picked from each round with one state being declared the overall winner. A panel of three judges tasted and scored each heat and judged on the basis of taste, the chef’s verbal presentation, creativity and use of the ingredients. The mystery box showcased ingredients sourced from Brooks County and the surrounding 150-mile area.

McManus competed in the second heat in which he had one hour to create a dish that would beat his competitor, Chef Keira Moritz, chef and owner of Steel Magnolias in Valdosta, Ga. McManus crafted a savory pork chop using his mystery ingredients of pecans, flowers, honey, apple cider vinegar, thyme, basil, Greenville peppers, maple, turnips, chorizo and cream sauce. The pork chop and the presentation by Chef McManus won over the judges and he was declared the winner of his heat.

“It was an absolute honor and challenge to compete with these accomplished chefs,” said McManus.

Georgia was declared the winner over Florida and $500 was awarded to Second Harvest of Brooks County, Ga.

When McManus returned to Destin, he brought with him a new cast iron skillet and a new award winning recipe.