Iron Chef

Christina and Sam Knapp of Hellow Yellow presented Iron Chef winner Mary Bagwell with a hand-crafted knife for winning the competition. Participating in the presentation are (from left) Sam Knapp, Bagwell’s assistant, Charlie Holt, Bagwell and Christina Knapp.

The Iron Chef Competition at Halifax Farmers Market on Saturday produced ingenuity in terms of a number of different dishes crafted by five different area chefs.

Moreover, it provided an ample showcase of dishes produced with Halifax County grown produce and meats, with Southern Plenty’s Mary Bagwell, assisted by Charlie Holt, emerging the winner over four other chefs and culinary artists.

Other participants included Aaron Smith and Joshua Henry from Molasses Grill, Victoria Worley, culinary arts instructor at Halifax County High School, assisted by Ali Ferrell, and Ginger Hamlett of The Packhouse Restaurant, assisted by Elmer Cole.

Judges included Sallie Adams, Le Cordon Bleu London chef; Deon Foster, Le Cordon Bleu London chef and owner of Chicken Coop in Olde Town Portsmouth; Evelyn Hunt of Blue Ridge Beverage and Joyce Wilburn, editor-and-chief of Evince Magazine, a lifestyle magazine in Danville.

The chefs created three courses from ingredients given to them on Thursday, and judges had the difficult task in judging the various entries, rating each course on presentation, creativity and taste.

Halifax County Tourism, Hudson Heritage Farms and Halifax Farmers Market sponsored the Iron Chef Competition that kicks off the annual Restaurant Week, which runs Monday through Saturday and highlights locally-grown produce and meats, according to LaTonya Sadler Hamilton of Halifax County Tourism.

Bagwell received a handmade trophy from Christina and Sam Knapp of Hellow Yellow, in addition to a $200 cash prize and prize pack worth $500, Hamilton added.

Bagwell gave a brief description of her winning entries, including three different bruschettas, an egg salad with green tomato chutney and rosemary bread with beet chutney, walnuts and chive flour; beef liver pate’ with sweet and sour pickled okra, cucumber, onion and squash; a mixed green salad with arugala and pears; braised pork chop, French style, with a cream sauce, apples and shitaki mushrooms; a three potato hash with barbecue sauce and fatback; and a two-vegetable squash casserole.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at