From left, Josh Holden, J.J. Molina, Jordan Evans and Robert Berkley won gold at the American Culinary Federation competition at Skidmore College on Jan. 11.

Handed lemons, Cornell Dining chefs make gold

Cornell's dessert: Meyer lemon curd tart with a schmear of blackberry-beet coulis, candied kumquat and pistachio brittle.

Four Cornell Dining chefs turned mushrooms, lentils and lemons into gold at the annual American Culinary Federation competition Jan. 11 at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York.

The team of Josh Holden, house chef and manager of Alice Cook House dining; J.J. Molina, chef, North Star dining; Jordan Evans, Risley Hall dining; and Robert Berkley, lead cook, Alice Cook House dining, earned a gold medal at the competition – a contest of 10 college-chef teams that resembled the Food Network’s television show “Chopped.” The contest was judged on a points system, as both Skidmore and Cornell earned gold.

The Cornell team served up a four-course meal. For the appetizer, pan-seared monkfish and maitake mushrooms with cilantro pasta, a shishito-pepper vinaigrette and caramelized sweet potato. The entrée was basted chicken roulade with chestnut and black garlic farce (stuffing), rutabaga and sweet potato purée with lentils and romanesco cauliflower.

For its buffet item, the Cornell team prepared a chile de árbol-braised pork belly tostada with Asian pear slaw, onion cilantro relish and cumin-scented farro. The chefs finished with a dessert of Meyer lemon curd tart with blackberry-beet coulis (that swizzle sauce or schmear chefs use to dress plates), candied kumquat and pistachio brittle.

During the critique of the food, one of the judges discussed Cornell’s food, “I didn’t like it. … I loved it. I wanted to lick the plate.”

- Blaine Friedlander

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Gillian Smith