A team of four Cornell Dining chefs truly towered above the rest of their competitors, bringing home gold at the annual American Culinary Federation competition despite contending with a set of ingredients that were unknown until the day of competition.
“Creating an outline for our menu gave us the confidence to tackle any ingredients thrown at us,” said Jordan Evans, a chef at Risley Hall dining hall and a member of the team. The other chefs include Josh Holden, dining house chef and manager at Alice Cook House, J.J. Molina, North Star dining chef, and Robert Berkley, Alice Cook House dining lead cook.
The team’s winning menu included a cilantro pasta to go along with pan-seared monkfish and maitake mushrooms, a shishito-pepper vinaigrette and caramelized sweet potato. Their entrée was basted chicken roulade with chestnut and black garlic stuffing, rutabaga and sweet potato purée with lentils and romanesco cauliflower.
For the competition’s buffet item, the team prepared a chile de árbol-braised pork belly tostada with Asian pear slaw, onion cilantro relish and cumin-scented farro. And for dessert, a Meyer lemon curd tart with blackberry-beet coulis, candied kumquat and pistachio brittle.
The group was put together by Chef Steven Miller, director of culinary operations, who selects and recruits members for the Skidmore event as well as other culinary competitions. Selection also took into account nominations and suggestions from Cornell chefs and managers.
The chefs practiced once a week in preparation, and, having already decided they wanted to make a pasta for the appetizer course, had prepared by making various types of pasta from different ingredients such as beets, carrots and parsley.
“Our focus for practices was to get used to working as a team and to learn each chef’s individual strengths,” Evans told The Sun. Additionally, the chefs researched techniques and practiced recipes on their own.
Cornell Dining frequently sends a team of chefs to events like the American Culinary Federation competition, as well as major victories such as bringing home a medal or even winning gold are not uncommon. According to Miller, the team’s win is simply “another feather in the cap for Cornell Dining, who consistently shows well every time we send a team to compete.”
“I’m proud of this group, who showed just how creative Cornell Dining cooks and chefs can be while up against some of our most talented colleagues in higher education,” Miller said.