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Skidmore College

Skidmore welcomes chefs to meet, compete

January 8, 2014

Skidmore welcomes chefs to meet, compete

Jan. 8, 2014

Skidmore will host the third annual American Culinary Federation Culinary Conference and Competition Wednesday through Friday, Jan. 8-10, in the College’s Murray-Aikins Dining Hall.

Registration for the ACF-sanctioned event is full, with 10 teams from five states registered. Mark Miller, director of Skidmore’s Dining Services, coordinated the event, which traditionally combines education and competition-level work in the kitchen.

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. The event offers seminars, culinary demonstrations featuring unique trends and techniques, tastings, networking, as well as the competition. Close to 40 businesses and organizations have signed on as sponsors for the event.

Presentations will include “Sea to Table” by Sophie Waskow of Sea to Table, on the connections between her firm and chefs; a demonstration on making maple syrup by John Griffin, corporate executive chef at Ginsberg Foods; a tasting of smoked duck sausage by James Rose, executive chef at Skidmore; and a tasting of hand-pulled mozzarella cheese with wines from upstate New York, led by Joseph Messina, owner and winemaker at Amorici Vineyards. In addition, “Menus of Change” by Arlin Wasserman, principal and founder of Changing Tastes, will address the significance of food choices that emphasize health, sustainability and flavor. As Skidmore’s Miller said, “Chefs are the people who can stress those aspects by incorporating smaller portion sizes and using locally produced foods.”

Back by popular demand, Tony DeStratis of the Lake George Club will again demonstrate how to make outstanding garnishes, centerpieces, and other artistic displays. He will also transform a 400-pound block of ice into a carved sculpture.

The high point of this annual event is the market-basket competition. Each four-person team will be required to prepare a four-course menu and a buffet platter for judging by a group that includes Dale Miller (lead judge, of Master Chef Consulting), Noble Masi, Fritz Sonnenschmidt, Victor Sommo, James G. Rhoads III, and Michael Morgan. Each team will receive the same market basket of goods late Thursday and will design menus to include all items from the basket. On Friday, throughout the kitchens of Skidmore’s dining hall, the teams will work to create dishes that will be evaluated for originality, taste, and presentation. Points also are awarded for teamwork, culinary skills, and sanitation.

Scheduled from 6 to 11:30 a.m. in Murray-Aikins Dining Hall, the competition is open to the public. Judging is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. In addition to the market-basket contest, Nestlé Professional will independently judge teams for the most creative use of a Minor’s-brand product, with a focus on Latin flavors and food in the menus. BOCES students studying the culinary arts will serve as runners during the competition.

Each team will be allowed to use just four butane burners to prepare the main course of their menu; desserts may also use an oven or freezer. Gold, silver, and bronze awards will be presented during the closing ceremony on Friday afternoon.


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