The Great Party Challenge

  • Pin It
  • print
  • email to a friend
By Paula Deen

This week, I brought the excitement of a culinary competition to the April High Point Furniture Market where I hosted my own Great Party Challenge at the High Point Theatre during the spring Furniture Market.  This Market, I launched my new River House Collection with Universal Furniture.

The Competition
Based on the Spring Market theme of “Inspiration”, five teams of local students who are in the culinary school at Guilford Technical Community College in Jamestown, NC designed and prepared edible centerpieces inspired by one of five family parties: a child’s birthday, graduation, 4th of July, Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. Students were selected for their creativity and ability to create under pressure. They had 50 minutes to work as a team to assemble their centerpiece, which needed to be 24 or more inches high. When the clock ran out, the audience helped me choose a winner. It was a hoot, y’all! 

And the Winner is!
The winning team was called “Red Hot Freedom” and they made their centerpiece out of fresh fruits and veggies, like watermelon, cantaloupe, radish and squash, for the 4th of July.  The team members were Zachary Foster, Amanda Hart, Shaina Jenkins, and Jerry Marsh.

Some of the 16 students in the competition came from as far away as Haiti and some were new cooks while others were looking to hone their skills. Their long-term goals range from owning a restaurant or a bakery to operating catering services and food delivery services. Students practiced for a combined 360 hours on their centerpiece – which is just amazing.

Each member of the winning team will receive a promotional video, with a personal interview taped with myself. Plus, they each get a signed cookbook and a trophy designed just for this competition. Plus, I slipped a little gift card in there since I know how hard it is to start out in this business.

Down Home Lovin’
With my new River House Collection, I share my love of Savannah and the casual comfortable lifestyle there. River House captures the beauty and hospitality of gracious life on the Savannah River. It is available in 3 finishes, River Bank, a deep brown cherry finish; River Boat, white with a gray rub-through and Oyster Shell – a beautiful grey accent.  Right now, I have five furniture collections, Paula Deen Home, Down Home the new River House and the Gals and Guys collections for kids that are a part of Universal’s SmartStuff™ youth furniture.
As always, I’m wishin’ y’all love and best dishes!

Photo courtesy of Anthony D. Thomas.

Read More From Blogs.

Read More From Paula Deen.

You May Also Like These Blogs:

You May Also Like These Recipes:

Leave a Comment

Reader Comments:


Who better to teach students how to "keep it real,and down to earth " than Paula. So glad to see you back and better than ever, Paula.

By Joanne on April 28, 2014

Paula Deen
Paula Deen
The Lady's Blog
The Queen of Southern Cuisine muses about her recipes, life and family. See Posts

Brooke Deen
Brooke Deen
Deen Mother
Advice on raising two boys (three counting Jamie). See Posts

Brandon Branch
Brandon Branch
Southern Style
Decorating Inspiration from Paula's Design Director. See Posts

Julia Sayers
Julia Sayers
Hot off the Press
Step behind the pages and let the Associate Editor of Cooking with Paula Deen fill you in on what goes into creating every issue. See Posts

Lisa Scarbrough
Lisa Scarbrough
Thrift Store Mommy
Mom on a dime advice from Paula's Digital Properties Manager. See Posts

Andrea Goto
Andrea Goto
Mom 2.0
Tips from a real-world mom with comedic tendencies. See Posts

Martha Lee
Martha Lee
Earth Mother
Practical, earth-conscious ways to live and parent in the 21st century. See Posts

Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Susan Greene a.k.a BUBBLES
Bubbles' Corner
Ideas and advice from a 21st Century young at heart Grandmother. See Posts

Cindy Edwards
Cindy Edwards
Southern Proper
Etiquette advice from a true Southern belle. See Posts


Paula, I love watching you and your family. I miss seeing your show, I watched you everyday. My son lives in Charleston S.C. He took me to the Lady & Sons to eat. Oh my goodness! People are always telling me that I look just like the cooking lady Paula Deen. I always tell them that you are my hero. May God Bless You Mary Ann
Mary Ann Tharp in A Summer of Burgers on August 15, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Add a few spoonfuls of parmesan cheese to the flour and cornmeal breading and it kicks the tomatoes up another notch. Bev
in Crispy Fried Green Tomatoes on August 15, 2014 at 10:33 am

I just bought Paula's Peach Salad Dressing and wondered if anyone has a good recipe that they use it in?
Melissa in Taste Testing 101 on August 13, 2014 at 8:36 am

Congrats Bobby. Loved the family picture miss you Paula on TV will be watching online. Jack is getting big. Looks like his mom but Matt aka moose has your face. Your eyes cheeks hair even falls to his face like yours except to the left. Good luck on your next venture. You give us other 60+ yr women strength to move on. Keep up the good work.
Carol Bryant in Love at Last on August 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm