Fifteen culinary students showed their passion for food and competed in the 11th annual Iron Student Chef competition at the Academy of Culinary Arts located at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Mays Landing campus, April 27.
At 9:25 a.m. sharp, it was time to start the competition coordinated by ACA Chef Educator Vincent Tedeschi of Northfield. The students were organized into three teams. Their mission: to create four dishes, each incorporating a tightly guarded secret ingredient revealed only minutes before the start of cooking. The teams were given 15 minutes to create recipes and 90 minutes to cook.
The secret ingredient to be included in each team’s four dishes, from appetizers to entrees: quince, a hard, pear-shaped fruit. The teams were given quince and a variety of other ingredients and told to produce three plates for each dish, one for display, and the others for judging.
The first place trophy-winning team included: Jonathan Daikhin of Voorhees, Lee Temple of Atlantic City, Amanda Giamporcaro of Blue Anchor, Jonathan Olivo of Toms River and Blake Weisman of Atco. Each teammate received a chef’s knife by Mercer Cutlery.
The second place team, silver medal winners: Kyle Timpson of Dennis Township, Thomas Louis of Blackwood, Imani Johnson of Berlin, Sean Connor of Cape May and Ashley McIlvaine of Pittsgove.
The bronze medal, third place team: Aimee Fischer of Toms River, Itka Drinkard of Galloway, Rita Marie DiCesare of Laurel Springs, Dejuana Armstrong of Atlantic City and Jenna Santiago of Little Egg Harbor.
The winning team’s menu consisted of Crostinis with Herbed Mascarpone Cheese and a Quince Syrup Compote with Balsamic Drizzle; a Red Leaf Lettuce Salad with Feta, Hazelnuts, Red Onion and a Citrus Vinaigrette with Julienned Quince on top; Smoked Pork Baby Back Ribs with a Quince Barbecue Sauce served atop Cheddar Cornbread and Oven Roasted Black Tomatoes with Cilantro Oil; and a Graham Cracker Crust Cheesecake with Quince Paste and Mascarpone Honey Whipped Cream, garnished with Lemon Mint.
ACA Chef Educator Vincent Tedeschi and Steve and Cookie’s By The Bay chefs, Warren Christy of Somers Point and Brian Murray of Ventnor Heights, were this year’s tasting judges. Kitchen judges were ACA Chef Educators Daniel Matt and Philip Cragg.
Judging was based on a possible 50 points, including 10 points each for flavor, knowledge of item, presentation, originality and sanitation. Teams lost 10 points for lateness and 10 points if kitchen/lab clean up was not satisfactory.
The Academy hosts the Iron Student Chef competition each spring. The Academy offers two-year degree programs in culinary arts, baking and pastry, food service management, and specialization programs in hot foods, baking and pastry, and food service management and catering. Full-time classes meet five hours a day, Monday through Friday, in morning and afternoon sessions. Registration for the fall semester is under way. For more information about the ACA, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.atlantic.edu/aca.