Culinary Competition Team 2011

By Chef Eugene Bell, CEC

This year’s competition team started practicing in October of 2010. They met every Friday at noon to practice knife cuts with vegetables. The cuts that are required in the competition are Julienne Root vegetable, Small Dice Onion, Concasse Tomato, and vegetable Tourne’s. Alternating weeks were spent practicing fabrication of poultry and fish. The pastry aspect of the skills competition was practiced on alternating Fridays; the student is required to: roll and prepare dough for baking in a tart shell, make one quart of pastry cream, and zest and segment one orange. Although this doesn’t seem to be a lot, the team is required to perform these skills in a round robin fashion and draw their skills just prior to the competition beginning.

The team packed all the cooking equipment and the foods needed for the competition, loaded the equipment van on Thursday, and left Louisville at 12:30 pm and arrived in Atlanta, Georgia at 10:00 pm. The team was up at 5:00 am to unload all of the ingredients and equipment for the cold food platter and began preparing the platter for finishing and presenting on Saturday.

Saturday the team rose at 4:30 am to load equipment and ingredients for the cold food platter, drove to the school and started finishing the aspic work and assembling the cold food platter. Judging began at 2:00 pm. The Cold Food Garde Manger Platter for eight is judged by four approved culinary judges including Certified Master Chefs. The judges looked for perfect execution of cooking techniques, aspic work, product combinations, pastry garnishes, flavor combinations, textural elements and flow of finished pieces.

The team critiques are completed by 4:30 pm then it’s back to the hotel to unload the carts for the skills and hot food aspects of the competition. All equipment and Mise is loaded on to a cart for each dish. The cart is checked by the student cooking that dish, all mise marked and put into a cooler.

Again, up at 4:30 am to perform a final check of equipment and Mise for each dish, carts are loaded onto the van and off to the school we go!! At 8:30 am teams are allowed into the kitchen to familiarize themselves with the space and place the cart for the skills competition. The skills competition begins at 9:00; all team members wait outside the kitchen for their turn in the round robin.

The student who draws fish fabricates a dover sole, cleans and sanitizes the station along with the alternate, then the student who draws the chicken sets-up on the same station, fabricates the chicken into ten pieces, cleans and sanitizes. The student doing the vegetable cuts aspect moves in, completes the cuts, cleans and sanitizes in preparation for the pastry phase. This all has to be accomplished in 80 minutes.

Cooking begins at 11:00 am with team 1. The Sullivan Team is slotted at team 3 meaning they start at 11:30 am. The teams are to prepare and present 4 plates each of appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert within the allotted time of 85 minutes. Coaches and other team members are not allowed in the kitchen during any phase of skills or hot food. The plates are completed in order and three plates of each item are served to the tasting judges, one plate of each is presented in the viewing area. Cleaning of equipment and packing now begins as the team waits for the floor judge to critique their kitchen presence. The floor judge is looking for; organization, cleanliness, sanitation, teamwork, camaraderie, timing of tasks, comfortability with tasks and proper cooking techniques.

Once the floor judge has completed his critique the team returns to cleaning and packing until they are called by the tasting judges. Each judge completes a verbal critique of each dish. They are judging for correct cooking techniques, appropriate use of the ingredient, skill in knife cuts, classical methodology, flavor, texture, color and arrangement of the presentation.

After the tasting judges have completed their critique, it’s back to cleaning and packing for the return trip to the hotel. The results of the point’s scores for all three areas of competition are totaled by the judges and announced at the Awards Banquet on Monday evening.

This just happened to be a year when the point’s totals were a pretty large spread across the board and there were at least 1 or 2 total points between all the teams. The Sullivan Team received a Silver Medal for their efforts.

The planning begins for the competition next year………

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