Culinary Arts students find recipe for success in commitment to practice
Creative juices were flowing last weekend for a team of Culinary Arts students from Athens Technical College as they sliced and diced, stirred, stuffed, cooked and assembled food presentations that earned them a silver medal in a culinary competition between 15 teams in Florida.
Co-captains Yvonne Sprinkle and Ryan Stanchek, along with team members Sara Burns, Taylor Fowler, and Nick Thomas, helped the Athens Technical College contingent capture a silver medal in the American Culinary Federation's Central Florida Chapter — State Competition that was part of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show September 22-24 in Orlando. Dubbed the R.L. Schreiber Apprentice/Junior Member Florida State Championship, the cooking contest determines which Florida student team or amateur teams will advance to the ACF's regional competition. The Athens Technical College team participated to gain valuable practice time, said Chef Scott Howard, program chair for the Athens Technical College Culinary Arts program.
The silver medal is indicative of a team's performance ranking rather than overall placement, said Jayme Booth, American Culinary Federation events manager, who added that the chairmen and chairwomen of the competition have 30 days from the final competition to submit the order of the winning contestants.
"(The ACF office) has not received the placement of teams according to the rank in the competition," she said.
Out of the 15 competing teams, one team earned gold, three earned silver, and one earned a bronze.
The culinary event consists of two phases — a skills salon and a cooking phase. The skills relay challenges the student teams to demonstrate their adeptness at chicken butchery, filleting a round fish, four classical knife cuts, and making pastry cream and pie dough. The cooking portion requires students to prepare four courses comprising fish, a salad, a main entrée, and dessert.
The four-course menu for the competition included poached flounder stuffed with seafood mousseline; puree of fall acorn squash; sherry demi-glace sautéed chicken with crawfish-chicken sausage; and orange-vanilla panna cotta.
The Athens Technical College team members, including two alternates (Corey Wall and Larry Deale Jr.), have worked extra hours to prepare for the culinary competition, Chef Howard said.
"It's a pretty hefty commitment," Chef Howard said. "Some of these students go to school, and they have job, and they still find time to practice for this. They are practicing 20-plus hours a week on top of a 30-hour-a-week job, and they are in school another 15 hours a week. What's amazing about this particular group is that most of them have been doing this for well over year."
The team next faces their next competitive event January 11 at Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta, but Chef Howard has told them they can have October off as far as practicing is concerned.
"We'll kick it back up the first of November for the state competition in Atlanta," he noted.
Photo caption: Left to right, Sara Burns, Taylor Fowler, team captain Yvonne Sprinkle, Nick Thomas, and Ryan Stanchek.706 355-5011