February 19, 2014
Skidmore College Culinary Conference and Competition
On January 10th, 2014, a unique showdown concluded the 3rd Annual Skidmore College Culinary Conference and Competition in the stunning exhibition kitchens of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. In this culinary competition, Chef teams of four, many representing top Northeast colleges and universities, sought after the Gold, Silver and Bronze medals awarded by the American Culinary Federation panel of Master Chefs in addition to the top prize for the Most Creative Latin Dish, which I had the honor to present. For the third year in a row, I judged each member of the winning four-person team in much the same way as the ACF judges, but with one interesting twist that considered the level of creativity displayed in their menu. The way the four winners built flavors and achieved extraordinary results while using the selected MINOR’S® flavors earned them the sought-after annual prize of a brand new matching 10-piece professional knife set. The MINOR’S brand was proud to award the knives to each deserving chef just for doing what they love—cooking good food with great flavor!
This year offered a new challenge. Keeping with the latest trend sweeping the country, the teams were simply asked to come up with a creative, tasty dish using one or more of the new MINOR’S Latin Flavors, as approved in advance by the ACF judges. This wasn’t much of a challenge, given the great new flavors they had to use—new Fire Roasted Jalapeño, Red Chili Adobe, and Fire Roasted Poblano Flavor Concentrates. And to make a good thing even better, Cilantro Lime and Roasted Garlic were thrown into the mix to round out the flavors. Lead Judge Dale Miller, CMC, picked a tough mystery basket that included bone-in Monkfish, pork belly and Maple Leaf Farms whole duckling, but the Latin Flavors Concentrates still left plenty of room for the teams to be creative and successful, as they were meant to.
As always each team performed very well, but in the end, the State University of New York at Albany took the event! Chef Dennis Gange, Chef Bradley Labarre, Chef Scott Joralemon and Chef Oscar Valtierre teamed up with the goal of winning the MINOR’S Grand Prize and they went to work earning it. After learning what foods would be in their mystery basket, the team had only one hour to plan their menu and gather all necessary ingredients before the items were put away. When they hit the kitchen they were ready. Even though this team was put together late in the game, and didn’t even get to practice much before the event due to a recent snowstorm, they planned well and used MINOR’S Latin Flavor Concentrates to ensure the authentic flair they needed. They cooked fast and skillfully, pairing Latin street foods and flavors with a portable “smoking gun” to add a great, last-second aroma to Monkfish Adobo—very creative indeed.
Congratulations to the Chefs from the SUNY Culinary Team, not only for winning the MINOR’S Grand Prize for Best Latin Dish at the Skidmore Culinary Conference, but also for grabbing an ACF Silver Medal at the same time. Congratulations to the other 10 teams who competed, and many thanks to the ACF judges—Dale Miller, CMC, WGMC, AAC; Fritz Sonnenschmidt, CMC; and Noble Masi, CEPC, CMB—and everyone who helped make this event so successful.
The Winning Menu
Appetizer: Tacos de Carnitas de Pavo Poblano Roasted Duck Carnitas made with Crispy duck, housemade fresh tortillas and assorted toppings
Soup: Caldo Frio de Cangrejo Estilo Acapulco Chilled King Crab Soup Acapulco Style with Cilantro-Lime Tomato Broth, Cucumber and Avocado
Entrée: Monkfish Adobo con Vegetales de la Temporada y Caldo de Hongo Red Chili Adobo Rubbed Monkfish with Farmhouse Vegetables and Mushroom Broth
Buffet Platter: Crispy Pork Belly with Winter Fruit Compote and Spicy Candied Pecans