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ACC Wins Gold in State Culinary Competition

ACC’s gold-winning Culinary Hot Foods Team celebrate, from left: Maria Limon-Cruz, Larry Winstead, Ian Macklin, Trevor Slosek, and Maribeth McCook.

ACC’s gold-winning Culinary Hot Foods Team celebrate, from left: Maria Limon-Cruz, Larry Winstead, Ian Macklin, Trevor Slosek, and Maribeth McCook.

Alamance Community College’s culinary student team is on top of the world.

For the second time in three years, the five-member Student Culinary Hot Foods Team won the American Culinary Federation (ACF) North Carolina Junior Hot Foods Competition, earning a gold medal and the highest point total from judges.

ACC’s student team scored 92.8, four points higher than its arch-rival, Asheville-Buncombe Community College, which has been a perennial winner at the state competition for many years. Host school Central Piedmont Community College finished third with 84 points.

“The competition is scored by assuming each team is perfect, then subtracts points based on critiques of each food dish and other factors,” said Todd Wanless, chef-instructor at ACC.

The team now prepares for the Southeast Regional ACF Competition, to be held in late February at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte where last weekend’s event took place. The ACC culinary team will face competition from about half a dozen colleges—not necessarily only community colleges–from states in the southeastern U.S.

If ACC does well at regionals, they will face their second trip to the national ACF competition ever. Two years ago the team won the regional competition, propelling them to a silver medal at the national competition in Phoenix, Arizona.

All three competing teams last weekend were judged on preparation skills, cook time, and taste and presentation of the dishes. All had to prepare the same dessert course and present a fish course, salad, course and an entrée course of their choice. ACC’s team prepared:

  • Appetizer: Striped bass with Provence, France flavors that included capers, tomatoes, and olive dust; and a squid capellini
  • Salad: Beet salad using numerous components in an intricate presentation. Chef Bailey said one judge deemed the salad “Michelin Star,” a term used to hallmark fine dining quality for restaurants around the world.
  • Entrée: Lamb, cauliflower puree, butternut squash, pickled mustard seeds and a bruléed Cipollini onion
  • Dessert: Poached meringue with vanilla sauce

Chef Bailey said this year’s team consists of three returning members, and two new students, although all are in their second year of the Culinary Arts program: Maria Limon-Cruz, Larry Winstead (alternate), Ian Macklin, Trevor Slosek, and Maribeth McCook.

Larry Winstead serves as the alternate, who stepped in at a moment’s notice which was necessary due to another team member’s incapacity. During the competition, however, the alternate’s role is to keep the team on time during the cooking phase, and keep them on task.

“Larry only joined the team a week ago, so he had to be a quick study,” said Bailey. “His military background played well into what our needs were. He did a phenomenal job in that role. The judges said he was our MVP during the competition.”  

Maribeth McCook is the youngest team member. As a home-schooled student taking culinary as part of the Career and College Promise program, she is working toward an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts while still finishing up her high school credits. Trevor Slosek is competing for his third time and was a member of the team that went to Nationals two years ago. Ian Macklin and Maria Limon-Cruz also returned from last year’s team.

Chef-Department Head Brian Bailey summarized his team’s excellent performance in Charlotte this way: “The three biggest takeaways were that we cooked the dishes in the allotted time frame, we executed the food at a very high level—they looked exactly like the photos we had submitted to the judges–and our students felt great about how they did.”