Thursday, 17 January 2019 12:31

Skidmore Wins Gold in Culinary Competition

By Megin Potter | Education

Swishes of oranges and yellows, dots of brown and stacks of frilly white spiraling strands graced the plates at Skidmore College last week. 

They were entries in the 8th Annual American Culinary Federation (ACF) Competition held on Friday, Jan. 11 but would’ve fit in just as well at an art show.

“Everything is just so beautiful, I think its art,” said Ron Taylor, Skidmore’s Media Services Operations Coordinator.

Stress & Surprises

The competition — similar to the television series “Chopped” — challenged 10 four-person teams to use a “market basket” of surprise ingredients to create a salad or appetizer, a soup or dessert, an entrée and a buffet platter within a limited amount of time. 

“It’s pure adrenaline. You’re excited but nervous and it’s hard to stay focused,” said Skidmore chef Joe Greco. This was his third year competing in the event, which is always a confidence-boosting experience for his team, he said. 

Skidmore earned gold with the highest total points for the sixth consecutive year. Cornell University, which placed second in the point tally, also earned gold, while the other teams were awarded silver medals for their work during the event.


Comradery Amidst Competition

“It’s an experience of a lifetime,” said SUNY Albany chef Christine Bennett. 

With a wide smile and a sigh of relief, her teammate Tara Nunez joins her. Taking off her crisp white chef’s hat and untying her apron, she talks of how fun it is to meet new people, discuss new ideas and experiment with unusual ingredients. 

“You learn little things from each team. It’s very nice,”
said Bennett. 

Food for Thought

Skidmore’s Dining Services organizes the annual competition which gets better and better each year, agreed the competitors and the judges.

 “We are extremely proud of our gold medal and how the Skidmore team worked together to earn it. We were also pleased to hear from the judges that this year’s competition was the best yet — with some of the tastiest food. We look forward to raising the bar again next year,” said Mark Miller, Skidmore’s Dining Services Director.

The two-day conference also included a screening of “The Bullish Farmer” documentary, a discussion with Skidmore alumnus John Ubaldo, owner of John Boys Farm in Cambridge, and several food preparation presentations. 

The panel of judges said the culinary competition expectations presentation really helped to improve this years’ experience for everyone.

“Sometimes I learn more than I teach. Like, I wouldn’t have eaten yesterday because there were some things today I wanted to eat a lot more of,” said judge Victor Sommo.

Putting Change on the Menu

Competitions like this one are a reflection of a changing attitude toward food. “Things are changing when it comes to food and people are thinking more about what they consume. They want food with flavor that excites them at school and in their own dorm room. It’s the demand for it that drives it. You have to change with the times. Change is inevitable,” said SUNY Albany chef Jeff Rayno.

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