MACON, Ga. — You hear about BBQ contests or Chili cook-offs, but on Monday in Macon it was all about soul food.
The group, Macon Peace & Unity brought together local restaurants and caterers to compete for the winning title at the Mill Hill's Community Arts Center.
Shameka Walker owns Melanin Queen Quisine.
"I've been catering now for about four years but I've been actually cooking all my life," Walker said.
Competing with her signature dish, southern pork collard greens, she says her secret ingredient is a dash of love.
"One of my mottos is 'I prepare it, but love cooks it.' Love is always in all of my food. I don't care if I made a turkey sandwich, its love in that sandwich. So, that's just my thing," Walker said.
Trained by her family, Walker whips up more than just soul food.
"Pretty much anything you can name, my mom taught me how to cook it. My mom, and my father, and my grandmother," Walker said.
However, soul food was a household staple.
"We always came together on certain days, especially Sundays, and just do like potlucks. I would always watch mommy in the kitchen trying to cook or learning to cook," she said.
This tradition is kept not only in Walker's house. Owner of Sonny Marie Catering, Chelsi Pitts, had a similar upbringing.
"Growing up, that's what we'd cook. Soul food on Sundays," she said.
Pitts is a new chef in the kitchen, starting her business about three months ago.
"During the pandemic, I decided I needed to do something different, so I started cooking and just went on with it," Pitts said.
Although she's less than a year in, she's confident in her skills.
"This is my leap of faith, and I'm just going with God and seeing what happens," she said.
She says some of her specialties include hamburger steak, mashed potatoes, and dressing.
The chef's are also glad for the opportunity to offer some soul to everyone.
"Culturally it's bringing people together, and like I said, its something different. We've never had something like this before," Walker said.
Both women say they are excited to welcome their plates into more homes.
Three vendors won titles for the first Macon Soul Food Competition.
Congratulations to Cabiness Catering for winning the Judge's Choice Award and to the runner-up, Melanin Queen Quisine.
Vibez Bar & Grill was awarded the Audience Choice Award.
Winners had the opportunity to take home a trophy, along with a $100 gift card and two tickets to any show at the Grand Opera House.