Academy of Culinary Arts Students Gain Food for Thought Creating ‘Brain Buffet’

male culinary student holding dish with female chef educator

Christian Soto of Atlantic City and ACA Chef Educator Annmarie Chelius of Ocean City hold Soto’s Buffalo cauliflower “wings” with a low-fat ranch dressing.

Students in Chef Educator Annmarie Chelius’ new Applied Nutrition class at the Academy of Culinary Arts created a “Brain Buffet,” Thursday, Feb. 2, that was a culmination of what they learned during the last 13 days of class. The project tied in to February being American Heart Month as well. The three-credit course focused on specific ingredients that will help them maintain optimal health as well as the use of micro and macro ingredients. Special needs diets were also explored including gluten-free, diabetic and celiac.

Christian Soto of Atlantic City displayed his take on Buffalo wings, creating Buffalo cauliflower “wings” with a low-fat ranch dressing he made from scratch. The typically high-fat appetizer now had a healthy spin without compromising flavor.

Students recreated recipes from Food and Wine Magazine, as well. Terrance Harris of Pleasantville and Emily Hood of Hammonton’s take on spaghetti and meatballs was a spaghetti squash with quinoa meatballs, and recent academy graduate Gabrielle Sceia of Hammonton made a chocolate almond pound cake with poached pear and pistachio dust, a guilt-free dessert option.

“The course opened the students’ eyes on making better choices when purchasing premade, processed food items and also incorporating healthy recipes into their cooking from scratch,” Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy of Arts said.

The Academy of Culinary Arts recently was ranked the No. 1 culinary school in New Jersey by Best Choice Schools and is located at Atlantic Cape Community College, 5100 Black Horse Pike in Mays Landing.

The ACA has been training future chefs by nationally recognized chef educators for more than 30 years and is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. For more information about the ACA, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, email, or visit

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