For chefs, a gold medal is hard to come by. A chef can even find himself in the top spot but still without a gold.
Campus Dining Services Sous Chef Jeremy Elmore won a coveted gold medal and first place at last week’s culinary challenge on March 24 during The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) Midwest regional conference, hosted by the University of Missouri.
Plaza 900 was full of energy as the culinary results were delivered. “Manager Alan Petersen and I were standing in the audience when the person in charge of the Culinary Challenge started reading the results,” said Julaine Kiehn, Director of Campus Dining Services. “We got to the top three, and Jeremy’s name had still not been called. I was jumping up and down and had my fingers crossed. The first runner-up was named – still no Jeremy, which meant he won it all. And he got a Gold Medal! I was ecstatic and so very happy for Jeremy.”
The culinary challenge was sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and followed strict regulations on time, equipment, techniques and ingredients. The scoring is based on established criterion with points deducted from a total of 40.
“As a result, multiple contestants may receive the same medal,” said Campus Dining Services Executive Chef Eric Cartwright. “Earning a gold medal is extremely challenging and requires near perfect execution. It is not uncommon for no gold medals to be awarded and receiving one is considered a crowning achievement by competitors.”
Elmore’s plate included Coffee-Rubbed Duck Breast with Black Currant Reduction, Pulled Duck Thigh, Spinach Gnocchi Parisienne and Batonnet Carrots. Elmore said he had practiced making the entire meal 10 times prior to the competition and felt very well prepared.
“Upon hearing ‘This dish excited me the most today’ and ‘Delicious, Delicious and Delicious’ from the judges, I felt really confident of my placing,” said Elmore. “Once they got to the final three, I began to realize that I had a great opportunity of bringing home the win.”
Cartwright served as the competition show–chair and knew the results before the award ceremony. “Needless to say I was absolutely thrilled to see that Jeremy had done so well. Though at the same time it was extremely challenging to hide any emotion as the results would not be announced until the following morning,” said Cartwright.
The win qualifies Elmore to compete at the national NACUFS conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Thursday, July 11, 2013. There will be five other competitors for the national title—one from each of the other five NACUFS regions.
“Jeremy is the first person from Campus Dining Services to win the regional competition, which means he will now be the first from Campus Dining Services to compete at the NACUFS national level,” said Kiehn. “He is also the first to earn a gold medal. This is a high honor for Jeremy, for Campus Dining Services and for our culinary program.”
“My confidence level is very high,” said Elmore. “I plan on following the same training agenda and really focusing in on the finer details so that I can achieve an even higher score at nationals.”
The Culinary Challenge is a unique part of the NACUFS conferences, said Kiehn. “Collegiate dining has changed greatly over the past 15 years, and the culinary component is a reflection of those changes. It highlights the culinary talent on our teams and the high-quality products we provide for our everyday guests – many of them being students on our campuses.”