Friday, November 19, 2010

State of the Plate '10 links both sides of supply chain

Hundreds of farmers, distributors, restaurant professionals and culinary students gathered at the Harold Washington Library Center and Robert Morris University in Chicago on Nov. 17 to discuss sustainable meat and why to buy it at State of the Plate 2010.

Sponsored by the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-Op,, Green City Market, Kendall College and multiple chefs and advocacy groups, the conference helped link together both sides of the sustainable meat supply chain.

(l to r) Chicago Dept. of Environment commissioner Suzanne Malec-McKenna gives the morning welcome address while Dan Rosenthal, co-founder of the Green Chicago Restaurant Co-op and president of The Rosenthal Group (Sopraffina Marketcaffé, Poag Mahone's and Trattoria No. 10) looks on.

Robert Kenner, writer/director of the documentary, "Food, Inc.," provided the opening keynote speech. The event featured a morning sustainable meat roundtable that highlighted the methods, challenges and opportunities surrounding the U.S. production of sustainable meat, the public health and environmental concerns, and emphasized ways to combat food safety issues at the production level. The afternoon session featured a panel of sustainable farmers to discuss products and methods and distribution strategies. The event culminated in a reception with sustainable food prepared by chefs and culinary students and a special viewing of "Food, Inc."

For more information, visit

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

RMU students win Cabot Creamery scholarships

Two Robert Morris University culinary students recently won $500 scholarships from Cabot Creamery Cooperative, a Vermont-based cheese company.

(l to r) Mark Wroczynski, Culinary Society advisor with finalists Rachel Murphy, Orland Park Campus; Michael Barry, Chicago campus; Stephanie Gatton, Orland Park Campus; Dustin Heilmann, DuPage Campus

Rachel Murphy, a student at the RMU Orland Park campus, won with her cheddar and chicken stuffed red pepper dish. Dustin Heilmann, a student at the RMU DuPage campus in Aurora, won with his recipe for beer-battered chile relleno. Twelve students competed against each other in a contest that called for recipes using two categories of Cabot cheese: Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar and Cabot Sharp Cheddar.

For information, visit the website at

Friday, November 12, 2010

'Cake Boss' to be recognized at HCCC Foundation gala

Hudson County Community College (HCCC) Foundation will host the 13th Annual Holiday Extravaganza Fundraiser on Dec. 2 at the HCCC's Culinary Arts Institute/Conference Center. At the event, Carlos' Bakery owner and star of the TLC reality show "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro will be honored with the Sixth Annual Distinguished Community Service Award.

The award is presented to community members who work to improve the quality of life for the people of Hudson County. In addition to the recognition Valastro (pictured, above) has brought to Hudson County because of his show, he maintains his family's practice of donating zeppoles to St. Joseph's Church, Jersey City, and baking St. Anthony's loaves for St. Francis Church, Hoboken. He is also an honorary board member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Proceeds from the event help fund students' scholarships, faculty-development programs and the school's physical expansion. For more information, visit

KeHE CEO honored at Lexington benefit

Over 600 people attended Lexington College's "Building Scholarships for Service" Benefit, held Nov. 2 in honor of Brandon Barnholt, president and CEO of KeHE Distributors. The event, held at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile, raised $450,000 in scholarship funds for Lexington students.

(l to r): Mai Martinez, CBS Channel 2 co-anchor and master of ceremonies for the event; Stewart Reich of Hanson Fago; Brandon Barnholt of KeHE Distributors; Rita Cuddihy of Marriot International; Chris McCarthy of Acosta-NS Sales, Dr. Susan Mangels of Lexington College; and Adam Levitt of The Hain-Celestial Group

The event celebrated Barnholt for his leadership in the foodservice and hospitality industry, as well as his and KeHE's continued support of the College. Since 2008, KeHE has partnered with Lexington through a strategic marketing curriculum that brings food industry representatives into the classroom to assist with learning and product development.

(l to r) Lexington student Karina Ramirez ('11), Brandon Barnholt and Lexington student Nicole Kline (’12)

Lexington College is the world's premier all-women's hospitality management degree-granting college based in Chicago. Visit

NRA voices support for culinary student aid at hearing

At a public hearing held by the U.S. Department of Education on Nov. 5, National Restaurant Association (NRA) vice president of labor and workforce policy Angelo Amador voiced the NRA's support for the availability of student aid for culinary arts programs. The proposed rules would set new standards to determine whether students in certain postsecondary educational programs, including the culinary arts, will remain eligible to obtain student financial assistance. Amador made the following statement on behalf of the industry:
"Culinary arts programs are critically important to the restaurant industry. These postsecondary education programs teach students the skills necessary to build a career in today's restaurant and foodservice industry. They also help place tens of thousands of students in jobs every year.

"Attacks on the culinary arts programs would have a very negative impact not just on our industry, but on the overall economy. We strongly urge the Department of Education to continue supporting these for-profit institutions so their students can continue building successful careers."

For more information, visit

Dumante student recipe contest winners announced

Dumante has announced the winners of its recipe contest at Kendall College School of Culinary Arts in Chicago, which took place Oct. 25. Kendall student Tyler Burns won first place in the cocktail category for her Dumante spumoni martini, which blended Dumante, vodka and pistachio gelato that was poured into a glass drizzled with chocolate and garnished with cherries and rose petals. Kristine Antonian took first place in the dessert category for her pistachio cardamom soufflé with Dumante chocolate sauce and ice cream.

(l to r) Kendall student Tyler Burns, first place winner in the cocktail category; and Kristine Antonian, first place winner in the dessert category pose with their scholarship checks.

Students were asked to submit cocktail and dessert recipes showcasing Dumante. Both first place category winners received a $750 scholarship and a $250 gift card. Second place winners won $250 and third place winners received $100.

For more information on Dumante and recipes, visit

The importance of edible gardens

by Andrew Hewson, CCC, SAIT Polytechnic

Editor's note: This article is a continuation of "Culinary ago literacy" (page 7) from Chef Educator Today's Winter 2010 issue.

The entrance to the Jackson Henuset Memorial Culinary Garden at SAIT Polytechnic

In cooking, as in life, there is a first time for everything. Great cooks and chefs draw upon their "first-time" food memories to inspire them to create. Walking through a farmers' market and seeing all the fresh seasonal items, smelling the earth on new potatoes, the fruity perfume of ripe peaches or that bright, distinctive aroma of fresh picked dill: These are the sights and smells that get the creative juices flowing in a chef's mind.

But where did this inspiration start, and where did these food memories come from? Are certain people born with a food gene that triggers when they walk through a farmers' market and inspiration hits them?

Part of our role as chefs and educators is to create an environment for those first-time food memories so our students have a baseline to build from. Certainly the priority is to provide students with a solid foundation in the skills of the trade. They need to know the language of the kitchen, how to control a knife, poach a piece of fish or braise a tough cut of meat into a succulent dish. In order to create these food memories, chef educators need to start with the building blocks, the raw materials of our trade: food.

With a growing urban population accustomed to fast-food, our students have become disconnected from their food sources. In postsecondary institutions, we need to take a lead role in not only teaching the fundamental skills of the culinary trade but in teaching what "real" food is and where it comes from.

The beginnings of educational edible gardening
In 1995, through the Chez Panisse Foundation, chef Alice Waters started The Edible Schoolyard at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Berkeley, Calif. This school-garden project has gone on to inspire hundreds if not thousands of similar projects across North America. It has also lead to a partnership with The Center for Ecoliteracy where they have developed curriculum resources for secondary schools to adopt when teaching children about food and the environment.

One of the goals of the Edible Schoolyard is connecting children with gardens, thus educating them as to where healthy, nutritious food comes from. By involving the students in preparing, serving and eating the food they are "awakening their senses and encouraging awareness and appreciation," according to Edible Schoolyard's mission statement.

The same benefits must also apply in a postsecondary institution that teaches aspiring cooks. Part of a cook's training is tasting what they cook in order to "awaken their senses," but in order to be aware and truly appreciate food, students must be connected to the agrarian process. That is where incorporating edible garden curriculum through culinary agro literacy comes in. (To read chef Hewson's article on culinary agro literacy, visit

The author and chef-instructor Simon Dunn breaking ground on the new garden at SAIT Polytechnic

Tips and resources

In our first season of growing at the Jackson Henuset Memorial Culinary Garden at SAIT Polytechnic, we saw a tremendous positive response from the students. Those who never had a garden created their own first-time food memories while others recalled fond memories of being in a garden as a child. Students are now learning to identify food as it is growing rather than simply "picking" from a grocery store shelf.

Andrew Hewson, CCC, is a chef-instructor at the School of Hospitality and Tourism at SAIT Polytechnic, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Want to learn even more about edible gardening? Attend the FENI Summit Master Class!

Friday, November 5, 2010

MSU hospitality school honors J. Alexander's

The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State University honored J.Alexander's Restaurant as its Industry Partner of the Year at the school's 32nd annual Career Expo on Nov. 2. J. Alexander's chairman, president and CEO Lonnie Stout II delivered the keynote address and accepted the award at this year's Career Expo.

The hospitality career fair has honored one company each year since 2002, recognizing the companies that have a close relationship with the school. The organizations actively recruit students for internships and graduate placements, provide guest speakers in the classrooms, sponsor school activities and events, help fund elective courses, and offer property tours and accommodations as well as student scholarships.

Headquartered in Nashville, Tenn., J. Alexander's Restaurant operates 33 restaurants in 13 states. J. Alexander's recruiters have served on Career Expo professional development panels and have come to campus to meet and interview students. The company's managerial internship program has launched the careers of many hospitality business students into full-time positions.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Kendall Culinary Curiosity Exhibition launches interactive website

The Kendall College Charitable Trust on Nov. 4 unveiled an interactive website, as a companion to The Culinary Curiosity Exhibition of nearly 250 culinary, bakery and confectionery artifacts displayed throughout Kendall College.

A Culinary Curiosity Exhibition display case near the entrance at Kendall College*

The collection was donated to the Kendall College Charitable Trust by Chicago residents Melvin and Janet Mickevic. The late Melvin Mickevic, a food scientist and entrepreneur, engineered innovations in food-processing technologies and production methods. The exhibition, curated by Vicki Matranga, includes 12 themed displays throughout the college, such as "Fire and Heat," "Liquid Refreshments," "Bakers' Secrets" and "Farm to Fork." The tools in the collection range from agricultural implements and commercial equipment to items used by home cooks over many generations.

More than 130 items from the exhibition are featured on the website, along with descriptions and videos about their manufacture, origin and use, as well as the solutions they provided in the era during which they were used. For more information, visit

*Photo courtesy of Eric Futran/Chef Shots

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Student winners of America's Best Raisin Bread Contest announced

The California Raisin Marketing Board has announced the winners of its third annual America's Best Raisin Bread Contest, a competition that recognizes aspiring and working bakers for their skills. The 38 professional and student finalists who advanced to the second round prepared their breads for a panel of judges at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kan., Oct. 14 to 16. The four student winners (pictured, below) are:
The winners will receive a five-day California vacation with visits to the Culinary Institute of America, Yosemite National Park and the San Joaquin Valley. For more information, visit

Artisan Co-Grand Prize winner Chee Her

Artisan Co-Grand Prize winner Oprah Davidson

Commercial Grand Prize winner Kacy Charlesworth

Breakfast Grand Prize winner Katrina Snelgrove

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

EGBOK Mission to host Chicago fundraiser

Everything’s Gonna Be OK (EGBOK) Mission, an international nonprofit organization that provides educational and vocational training for young adults looking to become hospitality professionals, will host a fundraiser on Nov. 11 at Primitive in Chicago. Hors d'oeuvres and wine will be served at the event, which will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. The event also will feature a wine and art silent auction.

EGBOK Mission's current project works with underprivileged young adults in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and plans to launch a similar program in Chicago in 2011. For more information, visit