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Bon Appétit

Posted: 01/13/2012

They came, they saw, they cooked. And, following a hectic day in the kitchens of Murray-Akins Dining Hall, they won awards.

“They” were 10 teams of chefs from upstate New York and New England, on the Skidmore College campus Jan. 9 and 10 for the American Culinary Federation Seminar and Culinary Competition. The theme of the event, “Healthy Foods, Sustainable Choices,” celebrated a back-to-basics approach to food preparation with an emphasis on flavorful food from local sources, seasonal ingredients, and a healthy lifestyle.

Mark Miller, interim director of Dining Services and a certified chef, organized the event, held for the first time at Skidmore.  Workshops and presentations included "Vegan Baking"; "Sustainability and Skidmore’s Student Garden," by campus Sustainability Coordinator Riley Neugebauer; "Vegetarian/Vegan Sausage Making"; and a presentation by plant-based nutritionist Christine Kaczmarek of Skidmore.

Tony J. DeStratis, executive chef at the Lake George Club, demonstrated garde-manger, the creation of beautiful fruit and vegetable garnishes and other artistic food displays. He then transformed a 300-pound block of ice into a salmon in front of an admiring crowd that included some of Skidmore’s youngest students: the children at the Greenberg Child Care Center, who had a front-row seat to the action.

The end of the first day saw the presentation of a mystery basket of ingredients to the 10 teams; all were required to include the ingredients in their contest entries, to be created throughout the day on Tuesday. Following the unveiling of the market basket, the teams were allowed to select additional ingredients from a Skidmore pantry and then they finalized their menus.

Judges included Dale Miller, a certified master chef from Sperry’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, and Noble Masi, a heritage professor with the Culinary Institute of America. Chefs did not compete against one another but for points awarded by the judges, whose evaluations covered such criteria as taste, serving size, use of product, and sanitation. Medals were awarded based on how many points a chef (team) achieved.

Skidmore’s team, which has earned accolades in past competitions and received a silver medal, included Paul Karlson, Kelly Zimmerman, Eric Des Rosier, and Paul Hill. They had one of the highest cumulative-score silver medals. There was one gold award – to the College of St. Rose. Other silver awardees included RPI, Tufts University, and Capital Region Career and Technical School. Other competitors (all bronze award winners) were Williams College, Cornell University, University of New Hampshire, RIT, and University at Albany.

Photos by Phil Scalia, Kim Bombard

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