Brockport Chefs Garnished With Gold
The Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation Dining Services chefs were the only team of cooking competitors to take gold in the SUNY Culinary Summit competition on June 14.
Chefs at SUNY Brockport have simmered from silver to gold.
On June 14, the Brockport Auxiliary Service Corporation (BASC) Dining Services chefs took gold in the competition segment of the American Culinary Federation (ACF)-sanctioned SUNY Culinary Summit.
"I was stunned," said Executive Chef and Assistant Director of Dining Services Richard Reynolds, who said he has "shied away" from culinary competitions until last year. Reynolds represented Brockport alongside Chef Manager Tricia Hillman, Chef / Assistant Manager Sean Foley, and Assistant Chef Manager Jeff Pack (pictured right).
The SUNY Culinary Summit is a three-day conference, hosted by the University at Buffalo, which features a culinary competition on its final day. The Brockport team also participated last year — their first-ever culinary competition — and earned silver.
This year, five teams of four SUNY chefs went head-to-head showcasing their skills for the chance to earn bronze, silver, and gold medals.
"The chefs were given a mystery basket containing three proteins and nine other items, all of which had to be used to make and plate a four-course meal in three hours, while four ACF-certified judges critiqued and awarded points," said Anna Hintz, assistant executive director for BASC administration.
All teams were eligible to come away with gold by earning between 90 and 99 points on a scale of 100. BASC was the only team to do so this year — making them the only team to ever win gold at a SUNY Culinary Summit competition.
"Some other schools participate in three or four similar competitions per year and never see gold," according to Reynolds.
The day before the competition, the judges allotted 45 minutes for the chefs to create and present a menu incorporating the mystery fare. The wildcard basket included several unique items such as quail, lamb, purple sweet potatoes, chayote, jicama, and kumquats.
The Gold-Winning Menu
Seared Smoked Roasted Quail with Cranberry, Farro, and Walnut Salad
Medallions of Poached Lobster with Jicama-Chayote Slaw, Fermented Garlic Foam, and Avocado Pesto
Pan-Seared, Spice-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Sweet and Tart Kumquat Pan Sauce, Mustard Greens with a Melted Leek Saute, Butter Roasted Carrots, and Garlic Oil warmed Cherry Tomatoes
Purple Sweet Potato Crepe with Vanilla Rhubard Crème, Praline Walnuts, and Amaretto Saint Cecilia Sauce
The judges evaluate the teams' floor scores based on a 40-point scale and their tasting
scores based on a 60-point scale. Under scrutiny are sanitation, organization, utilization
of ingredients, cooking technique, timing, presentation, nutritional balance, creativity,
flavor, taste, texture, doneness, and more.
"The judges are all certified executive chefs, master chefs, or culinary educators," said Reynolds. "They're the real deal."
According to Reynolds, the most challenging aspect of the competition is racing the clock while working on only four small butane burners, and the highest-pressure period is the plating window.
"You're looking at the clock, you have 15 minutes left, and your 16 plates have to be beautiful like they came out of a five-star restaurant," said Reynolds.
What's the main ingredient in their success? Reynolds says it's teamwork.
"Twenty years ago, colleges weren't bringing in high-powered chefs. We're very fortunate to have this culinary talent at Brockport, and because we have such a good relationship as colleagues every day, we just click in these competitions," said Reynolds. "A chef is only as good as the people around him."