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Skidmore College

Fine dining

January 9, 2013

Skidmore will again welcome chefs from throughout the Northeast to campus this week for an ACF-sanctioned conference and competition.

Mark Miller, director of dining services
Mark Miller, director of dining services
(Photo by Phil Scalia)                          

Skidmore College will host the second annual Culinary Chefs Competition and Conference Thursday and Friday, Jan. 10 and 11, 2013, in the College’s Murray-Aikins Dining Hall.

Registration for the event, which is sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation, is full with 10 teams from throughout the Northeast ready to participate. Mark Miller, director of Skidmore’s Dining Services, explained that the event combines education and competition-level work in the kitchen.

The theme this year is “Local Foods and Healthy, Sustainable Choices.” Said Miller, “People continue to explore where their food comes from, how it was made, and how it will affect their health and the health of the environment.” The competition is a chance for chefs, many of whom work for institutional employers such as schools and colleges, to develop new skills and enhance their repertoire of recipes during a slower time of the year.

Miller said, “This event brings the campus community together as a team. It’s a great chance to showcase our culinary talent and facilities and a good networking opportunity. The judges are certified chefs, and this year’s runners will be students in the BOCES program in Glens Falls. We have double the amount of sponsors this year to more than 20, which creates exciting opportunities for participants.”

The program will feature a presentation by Meghan Little, sustainability coordinator at the University of Massachusetts, titled “Sustainability on Your Campus”; and a talk titled “ Grain Training,” by Cornell University dietitian Michele Wilbur. In addition, Keith Lemnios, CEO and founder of Sun Coffee Roasters of Plainville Conn., will talk about sustainably raised coffee in a presentation titled “From Bean to Cup.” Sun Coffee is a sponsor of the two-day event.

On Thursday, Jan. 10, participants will have the chance to hear from vintner Joe Messina, owner/operator of Amorici, a vineyard in Valley Falls. He will lead a discussion on wine growing in upstate New York and offer samples of three of his homemade varieties. Certified Master Chef Dale Miller (no relation) of Sperry’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs, will serve as lead judge for the competition, scheduled throughout Friday, Jan. 11.

Returning this year is Chef Tony Destratis of Lake George, who will again demonstrate garde manger and ice-carving skills.

Thursday’s program gives way on Friday to high-level planning and execution of a four-course meal including a buffet presentation, to be completed by the competing teams. Each team will receive the same market basket of goods late Thursday and will design menus to include all items from the market basket. On Friday, throughout the kitchens of Skidmore’s dining hall, the teams will work to create dishes that will be judged for originality, taste, and presentation. Points also are awarded for teamwork, culinary skills, and sanitation.

Each team will be allowed to use just four butane burners to prepare the main course of their menu. Exceptions are allowed for desserts, which could, for example, incorporate use of an oven or freezer in the preparation process.

Awards will be presented during the closing ceremony on Friday afternoon.

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