What is in this article?:
- Top College Chefs Compete Against the Clock, Other Regions
- Molecular Gastronomy Inspiration
Molecular Gastronomy Inspiration
There was an element of molecular gastronomy in Strunk’s dish as well. The citrus pearls were created with a process that incorporated frozen canola oil, gelatin, grapefruit juice and dry ice. The result: little pearls that perched on top of the crispy oyster.
“When the judges bit into it, the pearl popped, releasing a burst of grapefruit flavor, but it never got the oysters soggy,” Strunk explains. She went to a class at NACUFS about molecular gastronomy and is interested to learn more about the techniques.
“I’m not quite sure how it will fit in here in Indiana, but it’s interesting, and maybe in a couple of years, and I’d like to try some of the things for higher-end catered events for sure,” she says, adding that the showy cocktail tricks she learned at NACUFS (a freeze-dried Bloody Mary) will be sure to make her the hit of parties at home.
Another competitor also turned to molecular gastronomy for inspiration. Nery Trigueros of Cornell University prepared his Flounder Two Ways using a “sous vide style” of cooking. It wasn’t true sous vide, because that would have required another heat source, and each chef is only allowed to use an induction burner, Anne says. At the same time, that constraint helps keep the competition interesting, she adds.
Other elements that intensify competition include the need to work at a demonstration table rather than a kitchen and the requirement that three classical cuts (such as julienne or tourne) be used to demonstrate knife skills.
But the biggest challenge could be the fact that each chef has only 60 minutes to create four dishes—the main course and three sides.
“The atmosphere is always tense, with a lot of excitement,” Anne says. “The chefs want to give it their all. They are bursting with energy, but it’s a positive energy. They were all supporting each other. If someone needed something, the others would give it to them.”
Other competitors included Mary Y. Ferrer of the University of California-Berkeley, with “Duo of Flounder,” pistachio-crusted flounder with potato and fennel hash with fresh tomato and blood orange sauce; flounder paupiette with blood orange buerre blanc on a bed of julienned vegetables; and Cesar Tovar of Rice University with pan seared flounder with sherry tomato ragout with lemon beurre blanc.
Manfred Werner Edler of Villanova University, representing the Mid-Atlantic Region with Flounder fillet topped with flounder mousseline (a forced-meat component which involves pureed flounder with cream that is poached) and butternut squash crust. Elder took home an ACF Gold Medal—he had enough points to qualify for a gold, so in the competition, there were two gold medals and one silver awarded to Phillip Edwards, culinary manager of Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, a surprise competitor.
Overall, Strunk says attending NACUFS is just a great way to get new ideas, meet new people and “sharpen your thinking, something that can be hard to do during the day-to-day rush of foodservice.”