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Holiday cookoff

Culinary arts club hosts student food battle to raise funds

By Faythe Del Rosario, scene editor
On January 23, 2013

  • Culinary arts student Patrick Abelman (right) pours sauce on top of seared salmon with roasted vegetables during the Culinary Arts Club Cook-Off held in the Three Seasons Restaurant on Monday. Abelman and his team won first place. George Morin / The Advocate

The Culinary Arts Club Cook-Off provided patrons food for their bellies from the buffet-style competition and aimed to help low-income families during the Christmas holiday.
In the Three Seasons Restaurant on Monday, the Culinary Arts Club held a small competition to raise money for organizations that will aid in purchasing food for people and families in need over the next few weeks.
Culinary Arts Club President Erlinda Vance said, "The money is going toward two different programs - the Food Bank (of Contra Costa and Solano counties) and Adopt-a-Family, which we call the Christmas Outreach Project designed to help those in need  have a good Christmas with their families this year."
There were four groups that participated at the event and they had until 11 a.m. when the event started to prepare the dishes for the tasting to begin 30 minutes later.
General entry to the buffet was $5 and while it is not much, Vance said they hope to help a lot of people this season.
She said that the club discussed putting on the cookoff for a while, however, putting the event together took about three weeks of planning.
With the help of two other cookoff committee members, she said it was worth starting to prep for the event at 7 a.m. One of them who helped with the preparation was Kristen Smith, who participated in the event with three others.
Smith said, "Appreciation and hard work is what matters in these competitions, there is no real monetary reward. If you win, that's what looks good on your resumé when applying to culinary jobs after leaving CCC."
Smith and her group, the Fantastic Four, however, did not reach first place in the competition. The four won second place for their spaghetti made with Bolognese sauce. They received a holiday coffee flavor kit, a certificate for their hard work, coupons to receive fried lumpia, movie tickets to Century 16 in Richmond and medals recognizing their participation in the cookoff.
There were four judges who critiqued the dishes at the event.
The judges were given scorecards where they had to validate the dishes and choose between one to five points in nine different categories to score each entry before adding up the overall tally.
The rankings were dependent on the groups' cleanliness, flavor, texture, use of color, how it was cooked, smell and the use of ingredients.
The judges awarded groups first through third place while patrons also got to judge what they thought their favorite dishes were.
The tickets they received at the door were used to vote by placing those tickets in the receptacle jars next to each group's dish.
Administration of justice major Dennis McCollins said he enjoyed all of the dishes, but by far his favorite was the beef braciole paired with turnip, parsnip and potato mash and demi glace.
"(The group) made the mash potatoes well and the beef wrap tasted good - it was something I've never tried before. Plus it was an all-girl group. That made me happy," McCollins said.
First place was awarded to the trio Sexy Back, comprised of culinary arts students Antonio Miller, Matthew Riformo and Pat Abelman, for their seared salmon with roasted vegetables dish.
Riformo said he was surprised and felt amazed that they had won first place. He also mentioned that the three of them found out that morning around 9 a.m. that they were going to compete.
With only two hours to prepare that made them  nervous going into the competition, he said.
Third place went to the Thai chicken and rice combo created by group Double RNP.
Group member and culinary arts student Paola Lumagbas said she was disappointed that her team's dish did not meet the judges' standards, but more disappointed in the prizes they received.
It included the third place award, a $5 gift certificate toward Three Seasons or the Switch, a movie ticket and free lumpia.

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