4-H members from two Marion County high schools are winners of a recent seafood cooking competition in New Orleans.

The 4-H members from two high schools in Marion County admit their region is not usually known for seafood, but they are proud to have created a prize-winning dish. The Great American Seafood Cook-Off national champions are Evan England, Griffin Adkins, Bryson Kilgore, Carson Keeler, and Payne Bumpus. The competition was held in New Orleans in August.

Working closely with retired teacher Debbie Bible and Marion County 4-H agent Vicky Lofty, the group competed last year but didn't win. So they came back this year to show what they learned, and the key was taste. Lofty said, “Last year we worked on cutting, and cooking, but we learned the chefs really looked at taste. And their flounder with seafood dressing really tastes good.”

The competition in New Orleans was stiff. Seven teams including young seafood chefs from Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, which had two teams.

The students had one hour to complete their flounder with seafood dressing, and present it to the judges. The goal of the competition is to cook something that's healthy.  This isn't about deep-fried foods. The first place team takes home $1,000 in prize money provided by the Louisiana 4-H Foundation.

In a county better known for football than culinary skills, these students say they're proud of their first place accomplishment, and thankful for living in a county which provided great support, and a hero's welcome home.

The contest is endorsed by the National 4-H Foundation and supports national initiatives of healthy living, science, technology, engineering, math and agriculture. And yes, each of the five champs say they want to keep learning new cooking skills, and plan to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, even after high school.