Culinary Nutrition Students Taste Victory at National Competition

CulinaryNutritionRCAWin230x160A team of JWU culinary nutrition students won first place at the 2010 Research Chefs Association (RCA) Student Culinology Competition, held in Phoenix, Ariz.

As defined by the RCA, culinology is a blending of culinary arts and science. This growing field of study was sparked by the industry need for creative food scientists and scientifically-minded chefs.

In the competition, JWU seniors Daniel Marciani, Joo Sang Jeong, Sarah Gouse and junior Eric Minnich had to develop, package and prepare a frozen retail product. The finished recipe was then recreated, to the team’s specifications, as a gold standard (restaurant quality) dish and judged against the frozen entrée.

Their winning dish, “Southwestern Black and Blue,” featured a corn tortilla stuffed with black beans and quinoa, served with Chimichurri sauce, roasted red peppers and a side of potatoes succotash.

Although no nutritional restrictions were placed on the dish, it did have to feature a complete protein; costs had to be kept to $1.99 or under.

In addition to creating their dishes, the JWU team designed a poster outlining the process of creating their gold standard dish, including how to build the flavor profile.

Lynn Tripp, associate professor of food science in the College of Culinary Arts, served as the team’s advisor and coach. “I run [the team] like a business,” she said. “If a team member needed a flavor or a starch, they had to find a rep and source it as if they were developing it in the field.”

Crafting a successful frozen entrée involves a great deal of trial and error. “You can’t just freeze it and expect the flavors to stay. The wattage on the microwave also affects flavors. There are so many variables,” Tripp noted.

This year’s competition included teams from across the country and Canada. A total of 6 competitors were chosen from 13 original submitted recipes.

Tripp is justifiably proud that her team’s hard work paid off. “Because of this win, these four students will have an advantage. This program develops students who are ready to go into the industry.”