Daniels takes state title in 4-H event

Published 8:09 pm Monday, August 1, 2011

Veneekai Daniels is testimony to the old adage, “practice makes perfect.”

She has a trophy and a blue ribbon to prove it.

Daniels won first place in the State 4-H Chicken-Que at the 4-H Camp in Columbiana on Saturday and will represent Alabama in the national competition in Kentucky in November. The state title comes as the result of practice and more practice.

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Daniels entered the Pike County 4-H Chicken-Que in March hoping that inspiration would carry her further than experience.

“Glenda Kelly’s daughter had done real well in chicken-ques,” Daniels said. “She gave me some really good tips and inspired me to do my best but I didn’t have any experience cooking on a grill. That was all new to me. I had a lot to learn.”

Daniels entered the Pike County 4-H Chicken-Que not knowing what to expect, so she was satisfied with and encouraged by her second place finish. After all, it was her first time “queing” chicken on the grill.

Daniels realized that to be successful at the regional competition, her chicken had to be moist and it had to have a distinctive flavor.

“I got a meat thermometer so I could keep the chicken at the right temperature – 180 degrees – to keep it from drying out — and I basted it to help hold in the flavor,” Daniels said. “I also tried some different things with my seasonings to flavor the barbecue sauce.”

Whatever Daniels learned between the county and regional competitions paid off for her. She won the regional competition and the right to compete at state.

“At the state competition, I spiced up my barbecue sauce with some different seasoning and then added some lemon pepper seasoning when it was done,” Daniels said. “That gave the chicken some zest. I could tell the judges liked it because they were nodding their heads and licking their fingers.”

Daniels said she believes it was the sauce and her grilling experience that made her the Chicken-Que state champion.

“The more I practiced, the better I got at knowing how to baste the chicken and, then, I worked on my barbecue sauce. I added spices and created my own barbecue sauce, and it was really good, I think,” she said.

Daniels is a rising 11th grader at Charles Henderson High School. She said 4-H has been such a positive influence in her life that she plans to remain involved in the program through her college years.

She plans to major in sports medicine and go where opportunity knocks.

Daniels is the daughter of Cryphena Ellis of Troy.