Cartwright: County’s first cornbread king

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 9, 2010

Gordie Cartwright can say he’s done something no one else in Covington County has ever done.

Cartwright, a fourth grader at Straughn Elementary School, has been selected to attend the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, Tenn., on April 24 and 25.

Only 10 finalists are chosen each year from the approximately 200 who submit recipes in the annual 4-H Cookoff open only to fourth graders.

Cartwright said he wanted to do something different with his cornbread so he and his mom, Christie, began discussing how to make a unique recipe.

“We put cinnamon and brown sugar in the cornbread,” he said. “Eventually, we came up with the recipe we use in the sweet potato cornbread.”

Gordie said it took him about a day to actually get the recipe where he wanted it.

“It takes about 20 to 25 minutes to cook and everything,” he said.

Tanya Bales, assistant 4-H agent, said there are very specific rules for the competition and Gordie had to follow them exactly as listed.

“The national cornbread committee, which consists of cornbread and cooking professionals, as well as Tennessee State 4-H staff, judge the recipes to narrow them down to the top 10,” she said. “Gordie is the first south Alabama representative ever chosen for this.”

While Gordie said he is excited about the trip and the competition, he is also a little apprehensive.

“It means a lot. I’m doing this so everyone can know me as somebody,” he said. “I’m really happy, but I’m nervous about it. It’s the Top 10 in the nation and everyone in the nation must be good.”

To help pay for the trip, Gordie has been outside of Tractor Supply Co., every afternoon this week giving away cornbread samples and collecting donations and plans to be there next week, as well.

“I’m trying to raise $500 to $600,” he said. “So, far I’ve raised about half of that.”

This isn’t Gordie’s first venture at cooking, the 10-year-old has been cooking since he was 5.

Recently he said he also entered a Chicken Que Contest and place first at the local level and will compete at regionals this summer in Troy.

“Cooking is my hobby,” he said. “It began because I wanted to learn, and I asked my parents if I could help and I fell in love with it.”