January 29, 2018
At Skidmore, creativity abounds and the college's dining program is no exception. And as "a kitchen is the heart of the home," it's no surprise to find that Skidmore's culinary team nourishes its "home" with creative flair and award-winning ingenuity.
Gold medal meals five years in a row
Skidmore's dining services team recently earned its fifth consecutive gold medal for culinary excellence in an American Culinary Federation (ACF) sanctioned competition Jan. 12 at Skidmore's Murray-Akins dining hall. The Chopped-like competition pitted Skidmore against 11 colleges and universities from throughout the northeast. Each team was challenged to create original meals from identical ingredients under strict time and style limitations.
Joe Greco, left, Bryan Bidwell, Donovan Preston and Paul Karlson
Chefs Bryan Bidwell, Joe Greco, Paul Karlson and Donovan Preston led their team through
the competition by preparing a four-course meal for a panel of two certified master
chefs. The Skidmore team's efforts earned the highest total points to garner the gold
medal, a testament to the chefs' dedication to refining their creative chops.
"The annual competition allows our staff an opportunity to enhance their knowledge while also expanding their practical culinary skills," said Mark Miller, director of dining services. "It's important that our staff are actively learning and testing new recipes that can eventually be incorporated into Skidmore's menus."
You can read more about the ACF competition in regional news coverage by the Times Union, Saratogian, Post Star and Saratoga.com.
The team was also recently recognized with two other awards:
- A gold medal in June 2017 at the "Tastes of the World" National Culinary Competition
- A listing among the Best College Food in 2017 (second only to the Culinary Institute
of America) by Niche.com
Creative culinary expression
The team's enthusiasm and collaboration have also earned high marks in the Skidmore
community. While national accolades have become a near-regular occurrence, the chefs'
talents truly come to life in a few of Skidmore's beloved dining traditions:
Rated by students as one of their favorite campus traditions, Skidmore's theme dinners
are evenings of fun and adventure. More than just a custom menu, theme dinners pull
out all the production stops with elaborate stage setups, detailed decor, and to the
joy of many, a few devoted dining services members in costume.
Past themes have stretched imaginations and transported diners to worlds of fantasy and exploration, from Alice in Wonderland to Harry Potter. A recent dinner, Pirates and Mermaids, was nationally recognized by the Horton Dining Awards, held by the National Association of College & University Food Services.
Theme dinners "always offer a lot of great interaction with students," said Frank Esposito, dining services production manager. "There are a lot of moving parts that really get us going. It's pretty cool how it all comes together."
It takes a unique blend of art and science to plan, grow and cultivate a garden. At
Skidmore, student volunteers take it a step further with their own garden, supplying
more than 1,000 pounds of organic produce to the dining hall each year.
The Harvest Dinner, a much-anticipated annual event, brings students together to pick produce from the on-campus garden and work with dining services chefs to host a meal celebrating the sustainable bounty.
How many ways can you prepare a breakfast? Skidmore's Wafflefest, a free de-stressing
breakfast offered the night before finals begin, goes far beyond bacon and eggs. From
Belgian waffles and berry compote to a colorful array of dessert pizzas and more,
it's a feast for the eyes (and the stomach).
Waffles aren't only for our culinary teams though, Adam Weinreb '20 has dreamed up seven more waffle dishes based on the dining hall classic.
Looking for more Skidmore culinary inspiration? Check out:
- Recipes for a few favorite dining hall meals on Pinterest
- Student Blog: Six creative ways to spice up D-Hall food
- A photo tour of the Murray-Aikins Dining Hall