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UMass Amherst Takes Home Silver in Collegiate Culinary Competition

AMHERST — A team of chefs from UMass Amherst brought home silver at the American Culinary Federation’s (ACF) collegiate competition on June 16 during the 29th annual Chef Culinary Conference held on the UMass Amherst campus.

The UMass Dining team featured chefs Anthony Jung, Jeff MacDonald, Max Melendez, and Kyle Bigelow. The chefs tested their skills against 12 other four-person college and university culinary teams from across the U.S., including Cornell University, the University of North Texas, Rice University, and Penn State University.

Each team was required to prepare a four-course meal including a buffet-style item to be served to the judges and competing teams. Teams had two hours to prepare and serve the first three courses and one hour for the buffet item.

The UMass Amherst team led with an English pea and lemon mousseline-crusted ocean perch prepared in a citrus butter sauce, ginger dragon puree, with tempura-fried oysters in a parsley-cilantro crème. This was followed by a cashew-stuffed quail breast and braised leg with jus lie, sweet-potato jam, stir-fried bok choy, and red rice. The entrée was accompanied by a lion’s mane mushroom ragout, sauteed garlicky mizuna, and baby mustard greens. The meal was completed with a caramelized white-chocolate raspberry cheesecake over a toasted peanut coconut-oil graham, pepita nougatine, vanilla whipped cream, orange anglaise, and raspberry-lemon compote. The buffet item was an herb pan-roasted pork tenderloin with sage jus and peach chutney, served with a bacon risotto, wax beans, and tomato concasse.

“We had a very talented group of competitors this year. Every team was well-prepared and competed like champions,” said Ken Toong, executive director of Auxiliary Enterprises at UMass Amherst and co-chair of the Chef Culinary Conference. “I’m extremely proud of the UMass Dining team and the menu they created. This competition shows how much talent we have in the college and university dining segment. I’m thrilled that we continue to raise the bar in this arena.”

Chef John Masi, show chair for the ACF team competition, added that “this is not only the best-run ACF competition because of the quality of competitors and the quality of the judges, but because of the atmosphere of continually driving to improve, created by UMass Dining, that is contagious.”