Thursday, October 22, 2015

Nations Cup - Round #1- Appetizer

First day of competition is off to an amazing start!  The mystery box ingredients for the Appetizer round were....

Figs, Fennel, King Crab, and Sambuca

The competitors were calm and focused (only a couple cuts this round).  All the dishes tasted amazing!

Team Canada
King Crab Cake, Buttered Crab Legs, Shredded Crab w/ Fennel Slaw, Fig and Sambuca Gastrique, Crab Oil Aioli.

Team USA
Crab Three Ways: Crab Bisque, Pan Seared Crab Skewer, and Crab Cake w/ Cajun Fig Jam.

Team Scotland
Butter Poached Alaskan Crab, Fennel and Shellfish Veloute, Fig Jam, Crab and Pickled Cucumber Salad.

Team Italy
Mozzarella Ravioli fulled w/ Crab, Fennel and Sambuca, Fig Ketchup, Fried Capers and Radish.

Team Mexico
Trio Tacos: Tomato Icing Crab Taco w/ Refried Black Beans, Pickle King Crab w/ Fennel and Fig Relish and Guacamole, Corn Taco w/ Onion and Fig Marmalade and Sambuca.

Team Barbados
Sauteed King Crab in a Medley of Herbs served w/ Sweet Potato Mash on a Creamy Garlic and Caper Sauce and Pickled Sweet Pepper.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Ice Carving Competition: Bay Harbor, MI: Professional Division

The Bay Harbor Ice & Spice Festival is a professional and amateur ice carving competition.  There are two students from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education (SICE) in the amateur and one SICE graduate in the professional.  The professional competitors started yesterday at 4p with 8 blocks of ice, each weighing appr. 325 pounds.  Amazing pieces are coming together.  Here is a look at what the professionals have done so far....

1. Stephan Koch from Yorktown, IN, is a SICE grad and on his was to becoming a Certified Master Carver.  His piece is an inspiring carving of a break dancer. 

"Music Within" by Stephan Koch
 2. Jim Houser from Fort Wayne, IN, is carving on a broken foot.  It doesn't seem to stop him though!

"Catching Fire" by Jim Houser

3.  Richard Daly from Mastic Beach, NY, has in incredible eye for detail.  This piece will have an alligator trying to catch the bird, hence the name.

"Close Encounter" by Richard Daly

4. Greg Butouski from Sunbury, OH, is a Certified Master Carver and has apprenticed many aspiring ice carvers.  Two of them are in this competition.

"The Reptilian" by Greg Butouski

5. Jerry Perun is from Marcellis, NY, and has the most mysterious piece to me.  I can not wait to see it all come together.

"Flight of Peace" by Jerry Perun

6.  Stan Kolonko from Auburn, NY, is doing a peacock.  This piece has changed dramatically from last night to today.  The detail is impressive.

"Cocked" by Stan Kolonko
7.  Aaron Costic from Broadview Heights, OH is a Certified Master Carver and from word on the street, he is the one to beat.  The artistry in his piece is beautiful.

"Family" by Aaron Costic

8.  Ben Goebel is from Whitmore Lake, MI and is the first one to do people (that I've seen so far).  His piece is two scuba divers going for the same treasure.

"The Great Race" by Ben Goebel

9.  David Smith is from Columbus, OH, and one of Greg Butouski's apprentices.  He is new to the competition this year.

"King of the Ring" by David Smith

10.  Brian Edwards is from Columbus, OH, and is an apprentice of Greg Butouski.  The size of this piece is eye-catching.

"Death before Dishonor" by Brian Edwards

Stay tuned for more information on ice carving and the finished pieces of the professionals!

More photos on Instagram @grcc, #grcc, #siceicecarving and Secchia Institute for Culinary Education Facebook page!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Nations Cup: Awards Ceremony

Round #1: Appetizer

Canada: Gold

U.S.A.: Silver

Scotland: Silver

Mexico: Silver

Barbados: Silver

Best of Show: CANADA

Round #2: Hot Pasta

Canada: Gold

U.S.A.: Bronze

Scotland: Silver

Mexico: Silver

Barbados: Bronze

Best of Show: CANADA

Round #3: Fish/Shellfish

Canada: Silver

U.S.A.: Bronze

Scotland: Gold

Mexico: Silver

Barbados: Bronze

Best of Show: SCOTLAND

Round #4: Meat/Game

Canada: Silver

U.S.A.: Silver

Scotland: Gold

Mexico: Silver

Barbados: Silver

Best of Show: SCOTLAND

Round #5: Poultry

Canada: Silver

U.S.A.: Silver

Scotland: Gold

Mexico: Gold

Barbados: Silver

Best of Show: SCOTLAND

Round #6: Dessert

Canada: Silver

U.S.A.: Silver

Scotland: Silver

Mexico: Gold

Barbados: Silver

Best of Show: MEXICO

Round #7: National Dinner

Canada: Gold

U.S.A.: Gold

Scotland: Gold

Mexico: Gold

Barbados: Gold

Best of Show: BARBADOS

And the winner of the Nations Cup is......


Saturday, October 19, 2013

Nations Cup: Dinner

First Course: Appetizer- Team Canada

Chicken, Leek, and Mushroom Terrine with Spiced Apples.

Second Course: Shellfish- Team Barbados
Bimshire Prawns, Poached Jumbo Prawns marinated with a spicy cucumber pickle served on a sweet potato pudding finished with toasted coconut.

Third Course: Poultry- Team Mexico
Roasted Rock Cornish, peanut red mole sauce, black bean tamal and sautéed vegetables.

Fourth Course: Meat/Game- Team U.S.A.
Honey Bourbon braised beefalo with a horseradish and celery root puree, fava beans, pumpkin hush puppy and huckleberry glaze.

Fifth Course: Dessert- Team Scotland
Wild strawberry sherbet, puff candy tuile, chocolate sauce, oat and honey crumble and a Drambuie red berry sauce.

Judges, How Teams are Chosen, and Thoughts from the Floor

Here is a quick look at the judges for Nations Cup.

From left to right: Josef Huber, Ian MacDonald, Joel Boone, Josue Villalvaso Romo

Josef Huber, United States, is the Corporate Executive Chef of the Amway Hotel Corporation and has been judging the Nations Cup from the beginning (2005). 

Ian MacDonald, from Scotland, has been a culinary judge for over 20 years and a judge for Nations Cup for the previous three competitions.

Joel Boone, United States, is a graduate of the Secchia program and has been judging for Nations Cup since 2011.

Josue Villalvaso Romo, from Mexico, was the coach for Mexico before he became a judge.  He has been involved in the Nations Cup from the beginning.

How the two person teams are chosen:
Mexico: There are two campuses at the Instituto Culinario de Mexico, one in Monterrey and one in Puebla.  There is a mystery box competition in which they have to create a 3 course meal.  One student from each campus is chosen to compete in Nationscup  To give each student as much opportunity as possible, Eduardo and Diana can not compete for a whole school year because they were chosen for this one. 
Canada:  At Culinary Institute of Canada, coach, Kevin Boyce, hand picks the competition team.  He chooses from second year students and looks not only for great culinary skills but certain personality traits.  Because of the nature of Nationscup he looked for students who could think quick on their feet and work as a team.  Michelle and Arik have many competitions under their belt and head to Toronto after Nationscup for another intense battle.
Barbados:  At Pommarine Hospitality Institute, ten students are hand picked to compete against each other for two spots on the competition team.  What is impressive about this team is that one of the original team members dropped out at the last minute.  Crystal and Shakira have been practicing together for only 2 1/2 weeks. 
U.S.A.: Secchia Institute for Culinary Education has an open try-out within the department.  Anyone who feels up to the task can compete against each other for a spot on the team.  It is a mystery box competition.  The plates are judged on presentation and a blind tasting.  Levi and Mary each bring their specialty skills to the competition for a well rounded team. 
Scotland:  When I asked the Scotland team how they were chosen to compete, Vanessa said, "It's because were ginger."  I about fell out of my chair laughing.  Gary, Team Scotland coach, hand picks the team and looks for impeccable multi-tasking skills.  He said a successful team is more than good cooking skills. 
Every coach said what they look for most in students is their personality.  Cooking can be taught, but a good attitude, quick thinking, teamwork and an ability to learn as you go are qualities that people either have or they don't. 

Nationscup 2013
I've had so much fun with these ten competitors and their coaches this week.  It's been great to watch the competitors become friends and advocates for each other.  Each country has a pride for their accomplishments and what they bring to the competition but to watch the pride for each other blossom over the past week has been something I will never forget.       
Last night at dinner I thought to myself, "I am eating dinner with Mexico, Scotland, Canada, and Barbados.  This is awesome."  

Nations Cup- Round #6- Dessert

An the secret ingredients for the dessert round are...

Assorted Bananas, Ghirardelli Chocolate bars and Coconut Milk
Assorted bananas, Ghirardelli chocolate and coconut milk
I was waiting all day for this round.  Dessert is my favorite food group.  Josef, one of the judges, said he was ready for something sweet, too.  The kitchen filled with the smell of chocolate immediately and I couldn't wait to see what these teams had in their hat box. 
Team U.S.A. using a little Meyers Rum for the bananas foster

Team Mexico using molds to add different dynamics to their plate

Team U.S.A. making chocolate shells with balloons

Team Barbados painting chocolate on their plate

Team Scotland doing some awesome sugar work.  Look closely and you can see the sugar strands!

Team Canada getting all their pieces of the puzzle together.

Final Plates.....

Team #1: Canada- Chocolate layered torte w/ coconut sabayon, chocolate raspberry teardrop, French macaroons and whipped ganache, macerated strawberries, and banana chips.

Team #3: Scotland- Trio of desserts: banana tart tatin, orange soufflé, and coconut mouse with chocolate work.

Team #2: U.S.A.- Trio of tarts (chocolate, mixed nuts and coconut) with chocolate dipped tuile, coffee granite, bananas foster and raspberry sauce.

Team #5: Barbados- Banana mousse, coconut anglaise, berry puff, carrot turnover with chocolate and mixed berry garnish.

Team #4: Mexico- Milk chocolate Bavaria with a coconut jellified mousse inside, plantain tulip, banana anglaise sauce, garapinado peanut crumble and a churro w.cinnamon and dark chocolate champurrado.

Today is the big dinner and awards ceremony!  I will be giving up-to-date tweets on the medals and awards plus a recap of the entire event on my blog.  Twitter @grcc  #nationscup. 

Good luck to all the countries!!!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nations Cup: Round #5- Poultry

And the mystery ingredients for Round #5- Poultry are

Whole Hen Turkey, Garbanzo Beans and Farmer Jones' Table (an assortment of micro greens)
Whole hen turkey and black garbanzo beans

Farmer Jones' Table
This was a fun round to watch.  Each team butchered their bird in a different way.
Team Mexico

Team Barbados

Team Canada
 Each team's dish utilized a different part of the bird and was prepared in a unique way. 
Team Mexico using peaches

Team Scotland beating it flat

Team U.S.A. beautiful legs!


 Final Plates.....
Team #3: Scotland- Pan-fried turkey ballotine with warm cranberry sauce and turkey sausage, garbanzo beans, celeriac remoulade and wilted greens.

Team #5: Barbados- Garbanzo bean and turkey curry with herb couscous polenta and creole vegetables.

Team #4: Mexico- Turkey galantine stuffed with fruits, peanuts and leg forcemeat, fake garbanzo risotto with squash blossom, pickled onions cooked with Tequila and beet with a mancha manteles Oaxaca (variation on a mole).

Team #1: Canada- Stuffed turkey breasts w/ pan just w/ pinenuts, fondant potatoes, creamy leeks and corn, brown butter zucchini blossom, micro salad and sautéed corn and pea shoots.
Team #2: U.S.A.- Pulled bbq turkey legs, breaded and fried breasts w/turkey gravy, sweet potato and chick pea puree, sautéed garlic spinach, friend squash blossom and orange corn bread.
Everyone saying "Hi" to their home countries on the live feed!
Dessert is the last competition then the big dinner on Saturday!  Stay tuned: Instagram @grandrapidscc, Twitter @grcc and #nationscup and here!