Announcing the winning Honey Seed bagel! Was it dragonfruit? Chocolate with chocolate syrup and sprinkles?

"There's a lot of chocolate."

Announcing the winning Honey Seed bagel! Was it dragonfruit? Chocolate with chocolate syrup and sprinkles?
Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Monday morning, before recess, a fourth-grader with braids named Zoey was at the far end of an eight-top table at Honey Seed on Market Street, working on a big business decision.

To her right, Kyndy, who turns 10 this Sunday. Across from her, Janey, already 10, was also chewing on a big decision. She summed it up pretty quickly:

"We're making a bagel," she said.

Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Not just making, but designing, flavor-decorating, taste-testing.

And marketing.

Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

"Excuse me, sir," Zoey asked, "What is 63,331 x 7?"

No idea, but we do know this:

Battle Academy is doing school in a way that feels like life. Thanks to a dynamic program called Cooking Up Learning, Zoey, Janey, Kyndy and 500 other elementary students are encountering cooking, food and their own lives in marvelous ways.

Like the Bagel Bash 2024.

For the last several weeks, Honey Seed and Battle have partnered for the second annual Bagel Bash. Students worked with chef Erick Wood to create the most uniquely-fourth-grade-inspired bagel and cream cheese flavors.

"We're delighted," said Robert Werk, Honey Seed's owner.

"They've been incredible community partners," said Tarah Kemp. "We've got more than 30 community partners." (Easy to see why. More on Kemp momentarily.)

Monday, her students were prepping, strategizing with handheld blue calculators, hands-up with questions, laughing with delight.

Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Tuesday, the judges – Kenyatta Ashford was invited, Erik Zilen, the Ellises from Lil' Mamas Hoagies, The Howard School's Patrick Kirby and Battle's Meghan Hiu – scored them on flavor, creativity, presentation and use of ingredients.

"Just like 'Chopped'," said Kemp.

Honey Seed will sell the winning recipe on its menu for 10 days, starting May 17.

Was it Zoey's?

"Oreos," she began, "brown sugar, chocolate, chocolate syrup."

"It's going to be healthy, too," she said.

Please explain.

"The toppings," she said. "We'll add strawberries."

Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Across the table, Janey was working marketing numbers for her "Shooting Star" bagel:

"Dragonfruit, pink sprinkles and frosting," she said.

And another ingredient, apparently. Just out of reach ...

"How do you say it?" Janey asked her classmates.

Tahi ... taho ... taha ...

"Tahini," Kyndy answered.

Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

There was talk of a breakfast bagel. Bacon, cinnamon and ...

"A little bit of hot sauce," said Kyndy, "we wanted to be creative."

Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Creative, indeed. Bagel Bash 2024 could be one of the best educational moments in Hamilton County. Thanks to Kemp, the entire fourth grade has spent months developing teamwork, marketing, math, critical thinking, creativity, communication, entrepreneurial and culinary know-how.

Monday, chef Wood pulled the bagels out of the deep-freeze, then students carefully placed them in vat of honey-flavored water, then onto the 8' wooden plank and into the oven.

"There's a lot of chocolate," said Kemp.

Erick Wood, Battle Academy students, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Kemp has made cooking cool, deeply imprinting on these young hearts and minds how accessible, fun, delicious, thoughtful food can be.

Two years ago, Kemp came to Battle from DuPont Elementary, bringing with her a curriculum she's authored: Cooking Up Learning.

"The only integrated, elementary culinary program in the southern region that applies state standards into fully aligned culinary units of study for PreK to 5th grade students," she said.

Kemp, who spent 12 years at Outback and Hennen's before entering the classroom, teaches 530 students, ages 3 to 11. And does so with joy, devotion and vision.

"Cooking Up Learning was my way of meeting the needs of my kiddos," she said. "And a way of tying my experience in the restaurant industry with being a teacher."

With sensitivity, Kemp knew one big variable in her students' lives: food, or the lack of. One student was responsible for feeding her siblings. During most classes, she nodded off, understandably so. But when Kemp taught cooking and food?

She came alive.

The lessons were relevant.

"Real-world-liness," Kemp likes to say.

"I am very passionate about what I do and the impact it has on my students and community," she said.

For her Battle students during the year, she invited a red carpet list of regional chefs:

  • Kenyatta Ashford of Neutral Ground
  • Eva Camp of Screen Door Kitchen
  • Erik Zilen of Niedlov's
  • Miguel Morales of 1885 Grill and Feed Table & Tavern
  • There's Hoff & Pepper, Southern Squeeze, Bleu Fox Cheese, B's Sweets.

Laura Robinson from the Chattanooga Area Food Bank talks about seeds and planting. WildOnes let them sample sugar cane syrup and hibiscus tea while teaching about edible parts of plants and trees.

Folks from the Blue Bird Society visited to talk pollinators and make suet. Dietitians discussed healthy pizza rolls. Foragers came to class. Local professors who combined with Main Street Meats to discuss Civil War eating. Bacon, meet cast-iron.

Here's an example of Kemp's lesson: "Responding to Change: a culinary experience from Civil War era to Women Suffragists into current problems surrounding food."

While her colleagues were teaching about the colonies, Kemp asked Zilen to come in and teach shortbread cookies.

Incredible, right? Can I squeeze into one of those tiny third grade chairs?

Food as a Verb thanks Tucker Build, our sustaining partner, for its generous support.

Tucker Build offers Chattanooga a commercial construction firm made up of design-build experts specializing in the planning, building and managing process.

Now, back to Bagel Bash.

The 2024 winning bagel?

Pagel, a pizza bagel, created by Miles Baker, Ingrid Luikart, LeSean Toney and Charnece Flemming.

Second place went to Asian Peanut Butter bagel. Third place? A bagel called The Freeze.

"This is an experience these kids will never forget," Kemp said.

Kemp's mentoring another county teacher and hoping to deepen a partnership with The Howard School so that Cooking Up Learning can spread far and wide.

"The dream to have this in every elementary school in the county," she said.

That's a big, worthy, beautiful vision.

Certainly bigger than 63,331 x 7.

Bagel Bash 2024, Honey Seed, Market St., Chattanooga, Tenn.

All photography by Sarah Unger (

All design by Alex DeHart

All words by David Cook (

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This story is 100% human generated; no AI chatbot was used in the creation of this content.

Food as a Verb thanks our sustaining partners for their generous support.

Regional Farmers' Markets

  • Main St. Farmers' Market

Corner of W. 20th and Chestnut St., near Finley Stadium

Wednesday, 4 - 6pm

  • Brainerd Farmers' Market

Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave, Chattanooga, TN 

Saturday, 10am - noon

  • Chattanooga Market

1820 Carter Street, Sunday, 11am - 4pm

  • Fresh Mess Market

Harton Park, Monteagle, TN. (Rain location: Monteagle Fire Hall.) 

Every Thursday, 3pm - 6pm, beg. June 6 - Oct. 3

  • Ooltewah Farmers' Market

The Ooltewah Nursery, Thursday, 3 - 6pm 

Pre-order online for Thursday pick-up between 4 - 6pm at Bachman Community Center

  • South Cumberland Farmers’ Market

Sewanee Community Center (behind the Sewanee Market on Ball Park Rd.) Tuesdays from 4:15 to 6:00 p.m. (central.) Order online by Monday 10 am (central.) 

  • St. Albans Farmers' Market

7514 Hixson Pike, Saturday, 9.30am - 12.30pm with a free pancake breakfast every third Saturday  

  • Walker County Farmers' Market

Wednesday, 2 - 5 pm, Rock Spring Ag. Center 

Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm, downtown Lafayette, Georgia

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