Associate Director/Executive Chef
Dickinson College Carlisle, PA
"The goal is to essentially tease the taste buds with a full flavor bite so our appetizers span the spectrum from relish trays to feta crostini bites, from salmon tartlets to baked Brie in a bread wreath.
"Since fresh fruit is always popular, we're constantly looking for interesting applications. We do a pretty standard fruit tray, but we dress it up with a choice of either amaretto, honey ginger, Hawaiian or strawberry yogurt dip.
"Our phyllo triangles with spinach and cheese have a really delicious flavor. As does the curried chicken patties on the sourdough canapè, or the chorizo and spinach rolls which are basically chorizo sausage wrapped in a proofed pizza dough, then baked and served with a spicy mustard.
"During the holidays we do an almond encrusted Brie wheel with a bread wreath. Our baker braids together a wreath of whole wheat, pumpernickel, and rye that surrounds the Brie. We top it with caramelized red onions and cranberries."
UCLA Medical Center Los Angeles, CA
"Our hors d'oeuvre menu is only a 'guideline' from which to choose. Our menu changes based on what the customer wants. Southern California is known for it's diverse population, and with that comes very diverse tastes.
"Our crostinis are really popular. We do basil-infused crostini with fresh tomato and feta, a Southwest crostini with melted Jack cheese, green chilies and garlic, and a Mediterranean crostini with melted mozzarellablended with sun-dried tomatoes, olives and fresh basil.
"We have some puff pastries that are quite good. We do these mini cream puff shells stuffed with tarragon chicken and asparagus.
"The fruit platters and vegetable cups are fantastic as well. We do artichoke bottoms filled with curried chicken, cucumber cups filled with Thai flavored bay shrimp, and we do gorgonzola and spinach stuffed mushrooms that melt in your mouth.
"We offer a platter of assorted fresh sushi with salmon, shrimp, California and veggies rolls. That platter is a 50-piece minimum. We have other seafood platters of poached salmon in light cucumber aspic that is served with pumpernickel rounds and dill sour cream."
Paul E. Ruszat
College of St. Benedict St. Joseph, MN
"Because we're in central Minnesota, our customers tend to shy away from any appetizer that features seafood. That said, we do a lot of chicken, cheeses, fruits, and breads for appetizers.
"In our bakery, we make a raspberry Brie tartlet. We make the baked Brie in a puff pastry shell and we top with a raspberry coulis. It's really delicious and it looks beautiful.
"We also do stuffed mushrooms that have a bread stuffing instead of seafood. Our chicken satay is really delicious. It adds a nice spice to the menu."
PHOTO: CALIFORNIA KIWI FRUIT COMMISSION