A student chef is looking to smoke the competition in spring 2013 as she battles for the title of Western Student Chef of the Year.
Suzann Fillmore, recent graduate and fellow at the Central Oregon Community College’s Cascades Culinary Institute, will be competing April 13 for the title of the American Culinary Federation’s Western Regional Student Chef of the Year. The competition will be held in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, as part of the ACF’s Western Regional Conference, and the winner will have a chance to compete for the national title in Las Vegas in July.
“I feel blessed,” said Fillmore. “I’m really excited to have an opportunity to do this.”
CCI’s Executive Director Gene Fritz and Chef Instructor Thor Erickson have been working with Fillmore on recipes as well as preparation for the competition.
“It’s a collaboration between all three of us,” said Erickson, “but Suzann is driving the bus.”
At the competition Fillmore will be asked to prepare two identical dishes of the chosen entrée, which is a maple-wood smoked duck breast. The judges will select a winner based on cooking skills, menu taste, and professionalism, according to the ACF.
“Right now we are taking each portion of the dish–protein, starch, and veg–and getting it to perfection,” Fillmore said. “It’s like a building, you start with the foundation and build it up from there.”
The Bend native, who hopes to run her own restaurant one day, will be working with her coaches from now until April in hopes that she will be ready to bring home a victory.
“Winning would mean a lot,” said Fillmore. “It would blow my mind. It would boost my confidence.”
Also in Coeur d’Alene, CCI will be manning a four person team for the Knowledge Bowl, a Jeopardy style question and answer competition. In a double elimination tournament, teams will go head to head in a test of culinary knowledge, with only one advancing to the nationals in Las Vegas.
“We are going to get every question right,” said team member Chelsea Martin. “I’m expecting a big trophy.”
Self proclaimed “pastry specialist” Brook McDonald is equally confident.
“We’re going to put the COCC culinary school on the map,” said McDonald.
Chef Wayne Yeatman will be coaching the team and is confident that all the CCI students taking part will gain more than just a victory at the Western Regional Conference.
“Its great for the students networking with people and building relationships,” said Yeatman. “It’s an opportunity to show off knowledge and be exposed to people that can give them a job.”