Culinary students from throughout Laureate International Universities came together at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts to prepare locally inspired dishes from their native countries in a global cooking competition on January 27 - 28. Teams from schools in seven countries in the Laureate International Universities Culinary Network joined Kendall College in this two-day competition.
Participating schools and countries included: Universidade Potiguar in Brazil; Universidad Latina de Costa Rica; Universidad de Las Américas in Ecuador; Universidad del Valle de México (two teams); Royal Academy of Culinary Arts in Jordan; Universidad Interamericana de Panama; and Kendall College in the United States.
National competitions were conducted at the various campuses throughout the past three months to determine the teams that would participate in the global competition. On Friday, the finalists had three hours to prepare for their high-end four-course meal for the following day. On Saturday, each team had an additional 2 ½ hours to finish their dishes and 30 minutes to serve all four courses to the judges.
Chef Steve Jilleba, CMC, CCE, AAC, corporate executive chef for Unilever Foodsolutions North America and manager of Team USA in the Culinary Olympics, led the panel of judges. A competition veteran, Jilleba has garnered dozens of awards, including a handful from the American Culinary Federation and an impressive nine gold medals from various International Culinary Olympic competitions. The panel of judges also included Stephen J. Miller, CMC, vice president and chief operating officer for Midway Airport Concessionaires and a World Association of Chefs (WACS) approved judge; Chef Leo Waldmeier, retired executive chef of The Drake Hotel in Chicago; and Chef Carlos Gaytan, owner of Mexique in Chicago.
It was a very close competition with less than 1½ points separating first and third place. The winning team was Valeria Coto and Marcela Ramirez from Universidad del Valle de Mexico (Campus Queretaro), who returned home with The Laureate Culinary Cup and gold medals. Their dishes included a Tarasca soup with shrimp and a main course of duck with a traditional manchamanteles, which is a typical mole from Oaxaca and Puebla in Mexico. The Kendall College team of Alison Honiotes and Adam Harralson came in second with their entries that included a trio of raw oysters appetizer and a pheasant saltimbocca main course. Third place went to the team of Mohamad Irshied and Khaled Haddad from the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts in Jordan.
"Kendall College is proud to have hosted this first-ever competition for culinary students worldwide," said Christopher Koetke, CEC, CCE, dean of the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts and vice president of the Laureate International Universities Centers of Excellence in Culinary Arts. "This lively competition gave us the opportunity to celebrate our dynamic network of culinary programs and highlighted diverse cuisines and indigenous foods from around the world." "This competition was particularly unique,” said lead judge Chef Steve Jilleba. "The winning team should be so proud of their accomplishment because it’s especially challenging for them to cook in a country different from their own using different equipment with which they may not be as familiar."