Jalapeno cornbread in a FINEX skillet
Yes, you read that correctly: Your cornbread recipe could win $5,000 and be named the best cornbread in America.
Every year on the last weekend in April, Lodge Manufacturing — makers of what might be America’s most popular cast iron cookware — hosts the National Cornbread Festival in my dad’s hometown of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, where the company was founded. And like every year for the past two decades, there will be a competitive cook-off to find out who has the country's best cornbread recipe. Whoever wins the contest will not only earn bragging rights, but will also receive a pretty nice check and get buttered up with a few other prizes.
There are a few simple rules if you think you can take the heat. Because Lodge and Martha White sponsor the event, you must cook your cornbread inside some form of seasoned Lodge cookware, and you have to use one package of Martha White flour. Your cornbread recipe must also feed four to six people, and no professional chefs are allowed to enter the contest — this one is strictly for the home-based cornbread cook.
Aside from that, the rest is up to your creative brilliance. To get an idea for what type of ideas people bake up for the event, you can check the festival website, where there are recipes going all the way back to 1998. That includes last year’s winner: Chili Shrimp and Coconut Cornbread, from Virginia resident Hidemi Walsh, who moved to the U.S. from Japan in 2000.
The Cook-Off champion will receive a $5,000 cash prize, a 30-inch stainless steel gas range from FiveStar Professional Cooking Equipment (worth over $3,000), and special gifts thrown in from Martha White and Lodge.
The deadline to register is January 31, so visit Lodge’s website and fill out the online application with your recipe title, ingredients, measurements, numbered steps and a photo of the finished product. And don’t worry about splitting the prize money with us if you win, but you’d best believe we’re going to expect a slice of cornbread at the very least.
See the winning recipes and get info on joining the contest