Cooking Champions

Winners of the New York Beef Council and North American Meat Institute’s Recipe Development Competition are (left to right) student Jesse Midgley, Chef Deb Schneider, student Rose Thompson, and student Alexander Moran.

“Taco Tuesday” at OCC student Rose Thompson’s house is where the inspiration came from. Thompson (Westhill HS) and fellow Hospitality Management majors Jesse Midgley (Fayetteville-Manlius HS) and Alexander Moran (Bishop Grimes HS) were in the early stages of preparing to represent OCC in the New York Beef Council and North American Meat Institute’s Veal Recipe Development Competition. “Our plan was to create two recipes, test them with each other and pick our favorites. While I was eating tacos for dinner that night, I knew Mexican was the way I wanted to go,” said Thompson.

Once the students each created two recipes, they came together to decide which they would enter. “We spent three hours testing recipes,” said Midgley. “It was hard only choosing one, but we chose the right one,” added Moran. The group decided to go with Thompson’s creation, Southwest Veal Poblano Pepper Bombs. The mouth-watering ingredients included Chipotle tabasco sauce, cilantro, garlic, salsa, and of course poblano peppers and veal. Once they settled on her recipe, they repeatedly practiced making it and tweaking it until they came with up a product they could all agree upon.

The competition was about more than which team could make the tastiest dish. Students had to submit the recipe with photos and a short video, the story behind how they came up with it, and had to complete a quiz based on a virtual veal farm tour video. “From start to finish it took us about a month to get everything together,” said Thompson.

When it came time for the competition, OCC’s team was ready to go. “I felt very confident,” said Moran. “I had known Jesse and Rose for about a year and we had been great friends. It made the competition a lot of fun with very little stress.”

In late April the students were notified they had earned first place. For their efforts each student received a $500 scholarship. “Winning was the best feeling in the world. Even if we hadn’t have won, the experience was a win by itself,” said Moran. “This was a much-needed break from all of the work going on at the end of the semester. The scholarship money was very much a surprise. I think the three of us competed for the love of food and a little recognition,” added Midgley. “The best part of the whole competition is that our names will forever be a part of OCC in Hospitality management,” concluded Thompson.

You can find the students’ winning Southwest Veal Poblano Pepper Bombs recipe by clicking on this link.

We are the Champions… Again!

OCC's winning team in the New York Beef Council's Veal Culinary Tour and Competition (left to right): Chris Sheppard, Brandon Clary, Chef Deb Schneider, Alex Courgi and Lexi LaFountain.
OCC’s winning team in the New York Beef Council’s Veal Culinary Tour and Competition (left to right): Chris Sheppard, Brandon Clary, Chef Deb Schneider, Alex Courgi and Lexi LaFountain.

Somewhere an engraver is getting used to putting the words “Onondaga Community College” and “Champion” on cooking competition plaques. In November, four students enrolled in the Hospitality Management major traveled to Canandaigua and earned first place honors in the New York Beef Council’s Veal Culinary Tour and Competition. “We’re just really proud,” said OCC faculty member and Chef Deb Schneider. “It’s a great accomplishment for our students and our program.”

cropped-hospitality-management-winners-002Student teams from OCC’s Hospitality Management major have made a habit of winning these competitions. In each of the last three years during the month of May, students have earned first place honors in the Beef Farm Tour and Culinary Competition. Those were also held in Canandaigua.

Planning and preparation for this November’s competition began shortly after the start of the fall semester. Four students were selected to compete: Brandon Clary (Oswego H.S.), Alex Courgi (Fayetteville-Manlius (H.S.), Lexi LaFountain (Town of Webb H.S. in Old Forge) and Chris Sheppard (Corcoran H.S.).

College teams would be required to make veal schnitzel sliders while using only six ingredients. There were limits to which items could be used, also known as the “market basket.” “We got around it by making our own,” said Schneider. “Instead of taking sauerkraut out of a can we made our own and added caraway to it to give it more flavor. We made our own mustard and added beer to it which was part of the recipe.” The sauerkraut and beer each took four weeks to make. Students also made slider rolls.

In the months leading up to the competition students gathered regularly to practice making their recipes. “We worked on this every Monday for the past two months to make it really good,” said LaFountain. “Through our practice we’d done this enough times so we knew what we were doing,” added Clary.

By the time the competition began OCC’s team was ready. They were competing against five other colleges: Alfred State, SUNY Cobleskill, Erie Community College, Finger Lakes Community College and Morrisville State College. OCC won first place! “It was really fun… It was a very exciting experience for all of us,” said Shepard. OCC’s team was presented with a check for $2,000 which was split evenly between the four students.

The event also included lectures, presentations and tours of a veal producer and Noblehurst Farms, a dairy farm in western New York. It was quite an experience for students like Courgi. “I had never been on a dairy farm. It was very interesting to see the whole process and how things work.”

Congratulations to OCC’s team! You can watch a video produced by the New York Beef Council here.

OCC's team poses for a photo with the ceremonial check after earning first place honors.
OCC’s team poses for a photo with the ceremonial check after earning first place honors.

Culinary Champions Again!

OCC’s Hospitality Management team is champions of the Beef Farm Tour and Culinary Competition for the second consecutive year! Students brought home a first-place check worth $2,000. Each of the three student team members received $500 and the College’s Hospitality Management major was awarded the remaining $500.

The Champoions! OCC's Hospitality Management team includes (left to right) Angelo Lafata, Chris Pecone, Jessica Tobias and Chef Eric Rose.
The Champions! OCC’s Hospitality Management team includes (left to right) Angelo Lafata, Chris Pecone, Jessica Tobias and Chef Eric Rose.

OCC defeated teams from Erie Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Oneonta and SUNY Sullivan. The event was held April 16 & 17 in Canandaigua, New York.

Chef Eric Rose once again led the students in competition. Joining him were Hospitality Management majors Angelo Lafata (Cicero-North Syracuse High School), Chris Pecone (Cuba Rushford High School) and Jessica Tobias (Cincinnatus High School).

Preparation for the event began weeks in advance. Students were required to create a restaurant theme, devise a menu with prices and food cost analysis, have menu items for customers with special needs (such as gluten free or low calorie) and develop a marketing plan which included social media. OCC’s team named its restaurant “Prospects Pub.”

Machaca Ribeye Sampler
The Machaca (ribeye) Sampler was prepared by OCC’s Hospitality Management team.

Students prepared a Machaca (Ribeye) Sampler which consisted of slow braised rib cap steak served with samplings of authentic regional accompaniments including guacamole, pico de gallo, Cotija cheese and fresh crisps.

The entree was Steak Pommes Frite which included seared aged beef rib-eye filet capped with fresh horseradish crisp, handmade truffled steak fries with Boursin cheese sauce and grilled micro Romaine wedge salad with Mission Fig and dried cherries. The winning entree is pictured at the top of this story.

Students created one beauty plate and five tasting plates for the judges, along with 12 servings of each recipe to divide and share with fellow contestants. The event was sponsored by the New York Beef Council.