S&D Culinary Challenge All-Star: Interview with Joy Turner

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Four — it’s the number of times Joy Turner has competed in the S&D Culinary Challenge and the number of times she’s made the top 10. This year, the last year she was eligible to compete, Joy earned third place honors and a $750 prize for her refined take on shrimp and grits, “Low Country Jamm’in.”

The Johnson & Wales University Charlotte (JWU) senior answered a few of our questions about participating in the S&D Culinary Challenges, life on her farm and what her future might hold.

Why do you enjoy competitions? How do they challenge you?

I’ve always had a competitive streak, but the S&D Culinary Challenge was my first culinary arts competition. It started me on a journey of discovering how to put food together by thinking outside the box and has allowed me to expand techniques that I learned at JWU. The challenge comes in finding the pairing that works really, really well together. Who would have thought coffee and liver would be THAT good? [Joy’s 2015 recipe featured breaded and bacon-wrapped chicken livers, topped with a coffee gastrique and fresh garnish and earned her second place.]

What will you take away from your four years participating in the S&D Culinary Challenge?

low-country-jamm'in-int-2245The takeaway for me is working with a great team of professionals who have allowed me to grow in my culinary career. Being able to do something I have grown to love more than I thought possible, while learning different areas of this business, has been a huge asset to me. Each and every person involved with the S&D Culinary Challenge has helped me grow in this craft of culinary arts — not to mention the great mentors of Chef Jim Noble and Chef Clark Barlow who have shown me their techniques so I can become better than I was yesterday.

Switching gears from the competition, tell us about your farm.

My husband Mark and I have a startup sustainable farm in Lancaster County, South Carolina, called The Farm at Flat Creek, LLC that raises heritage breed pigs. Mark also manages (on the same property) a cow operation for Griffin Farms, which has pasture-raised Santa Gertrudis cows. We have been operating since 2009 and have learned a great deal about the world of livestock.

Through the S&D Culinary Challenge, I was able to be mentored by Chef Jim Noble. Because of this relationship and the fact that we raise Ossabaw Island hogs, which is a special heritage breed of pig, we have been fortunate enough to purvey for Chef Noble, as well as other Charlotte area chefs, when the need arises. It is a privilege to do so. Additionally, we do sell some pork products to the public from our farm. There is a certain sense of satisfaction knowing we are in a small way doing our part to raise animals in a respectable manner and provide a product that is locally sourced.

How does your farm inspire you?

There is something about being able to walk outside anytime of the year and look at our farm and harvest food from our personal garden and grounds. We have bee hives, a pecan tree, blueberry bushes, ponds from which we fish and a huge vegetable garden to name a few…

It’s hard NOT to be inspired when all these foods that you have lovingly raised to fruition bear such genuine flavors. All I want to do is celebrate those flavors. I’m making strawberry shortcake with strawberries I’ve grown — what’s not to be inspired by and love about that? I’m amazed every day by our farm. And for the record, Mark Turner is the farmer, and I’m blessed enough to be the farmer’s wife.

What is next for you?

I just finished up my Bachelor of Science degree in food service management at JWU and am currently employed at Chillfire Bar & Grill in Denver, North Carolina. I’m learning so much about the restaurant business and feel confident that someday I will have a business of my own in the foodservice industry. I’m excited to continue learning about all this business has to offer. I have also been toying with the idea going back to school to get my master’s degree in regulatory food law. A Master of Jurisprudence has a nice ring to it — I’ll let you know.

Learn more about Joy and the rest of the finalists from this year’s S&D Culinary Challenge by watching the videos on S&D’s Facebook page.