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A-B Tech Culinary Team Wins Regional Competition
May 8, 2014
A-B Tech Community College students took first place during the American Culinary Federation’s Southeast Regional Conference on April 29 in Charleston, S.C., securing the Hot Food Team a trip to national competition in Kansas City in July.
The regional competition consists of three phases: cold-food presentation, skills and cooking. Floor judges also evaluate their organization, sanitation, teamwork, workflow, and cooking techniques and knife skills, where the A-B Tech team earned a perfect score.
“The team’s skills were definitely high level and impressed the judges,” said Chef Instructor Eric Backer, the team's coach. “You could certainly see the difference in how much practice they did.” Students practiced an average of 20 hours a week on top of their full course loads, spending about 60 to 70 hours a week at the college.
During the cooking phase, teams prepared four portions of the classical fish starter matelote, a salad, a dessert and a chicken entree of their choice from Escoffier: The Complete Guide to the Art of Modern Cookery. Competitors are judged on such criteria as the flavor, taste, texture and doneness of their foods; serving methods; portion sizes and creativity.
Team members Alex Harris, Caroline Williams, Ruth Solis, Jay O’Hannon and Kristina Costa, were able to deal with some serious curveballs thrown their way, according to Chef Matt Tracy, Culinary Arts Chair. “These are they types of things they will face in the industry. With no hesitation, they stepped in and made best of each situation,” he said, after the students had to create their cold food platter in their hotel room.
“They were an incredible team – truly. They were professional, focused and well-skilled,” said Chef Sheila Tillman, Associate Dean of Hospitality Education. A-B Tech comes with a standard and our students continually raise the standard at competition. This team didn’t have to be motivated. They had the drive to push themselves toward excellence.”
“The team did an excellent job and they are pleased to be able to represent the ACF Southeast region,” said Backer. “The students have had their sights set on Kansas City from the beginning, and I could not be prouder of a group of students representing our school. The team is aware of the task at hand, and they are already preparing for the incredible competition they will face at the national convention.”