PARKERSBURG - For the first time, a pre-teenager has won the grand prize in the 58th annual The Parkersburg News and Sentinel/Marietta A.M. Cookbook contest.
Joseph Sprouse, 12, of Parkersburg, took home the top prize for his Tony's Chocolate Pecan Pie while he also took second place in the desserts category for the competition held Oct. 24 at the Williamstown Women's Club.
"I honestly am very excited," Sprouse said. "I think it will be really cool to be a judge next year."
Photo by Jolene Craig
Joseph Sprouse, 12, of Parkersburg, took home the top prize for his Tony’s Chocolate Pecan Pie in the 58th annual Parkersburg News and Sentinel/Marietta A.M. Cookbook contest.
The name of the dish was confusing, but Sprouse said there is a reason for it.
"I get a lot of recipes from my grandma's recipe box, and we believe this pie came from her brother," he said. "So, I named it after him."
This was Sprouse's second year in the competition. He won second place in the soups category last year for his pea soup.
"I had no idea I could win the grand prize and not win the category, but it's really exciting," he said.
Sharon Coleman, who organizes the cookbook for the newspaper, has always told the contestants this outcome is a possibility because the grand prize winner is based on points for the dish itself while category winners also include the judges' points for presentation.
At 12 years old, Sprouse is the youngest known winner of the contest, Coleman said.
"We don't get kids as contestants or finalists very often and I don't think we've ever had a child win grand prize before," she said.
Sprouse's pie was chosen from 415 recipes from 47 contestants entered into this year's competition.
As grand prize winner, Sprouse will receive a $500 gift card from Foodland. To do good in the community, Sprouse plans to take $100 of his grand prize and donate it to a local food pantry for the holidays.
"It's something that he can do to help, and his father and I want to teach him community responsibility," said his mother Mary Sprouse. "This is a great way for him to help."
Joseph Sprouse said he also wants to inspire other kids to do what they love.
"I know a lot of kids feel like they aren't able to win anything and I want them to know they can do anything," he said.
The judges for the cookbook were Kiki Angelos, restaurateur and accomplished cook; Patty Christopher, a food columnist for the newspaper; Sarah Jalbert; and 2011 cookbook winner Lola Smith.
Fred Ponko, with the culinary staff of the Blennerhassett Hotel and 2010 cookbook contest winner, served as the master of ceremonies.
Along with presentation, the dishes were judged on taste, preparation, originality and overall appeal.
The cookbook includes all recipes submitted for this year's competition and is available in today's edition of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel/Marietta A.M. Additional copies are available at the newspaper office at 519 Juliana St., in downtown Parkersburg.