Challenge team brings home first place for second year
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (April 15, 2014) - “Unbelievable,” was the
unanimous response from members of a winning team of hospitality students when
asked how they felt when they learned they would take home first place honors for
the second year in a row.
quartet of students from the school’s student chapter of the International Food
Service Executives Association competed in a culinary challenge as part of the parent
organization’s annual conference in Orlando April 9-13.
(N.Y.) State, which came in second in last year’s competition, again posed the
had stepped up their game tremendously with a whole new team,” said Jade
Overton, a senior from Baltimore, Md., UMES’ captain and a return
competitor. Jamel Smith, a senior from
Philadelphia, Pa., alternate on the team and also returning to the challenge,
added that this year’s event was tougher overall because there were more teams entered
in the competition.
bested eight teams including culinary giant Johnson & Wales with its
award-winning menu; a strawberry steak salad appetizer, seared salmon topped
with pineapple salsa and mango fried rice entrée, and a Mexi-crème brulée
gave the team the edge?
kept it simple, but with a lot of flavor,” Smith said.
a pantry of over 100 items to choose from, some of the teams tried to “get a
little crazy” and attempted too much, Overton said. The UMES team, she said, simulated what the
challenge would be like back in the university’s kitchen practicing with about
30 items—a fraction of what would be at their disposal—and a mystery
ingredient, a requirement of the competition.
Team UMES also tried to use the same equipment in practice that would be
available in the competition, but was
thrown a curve-ball this year when it was faced with using an induction cook
top that members were unfamiliar with, but conquered nonetheless.
Bouie, a senior from Baltimore, Md. and also a veteran competitor, said the
group intimidated its peers and impressed the panel of eight judges, one from
each category of requirements, with adhering strictly to the guidelines.
biggest challenge? “Anticipation of the
announcement (of the winners) a day later,” Bouie said. “I knew we were going to do well, but didn’t
know if we were going to win.”
Ralston Whittingham praised this year’s leadership of Bouie, who served as
production manager for the UMES Dinner Theatre and the HBCU Choral Festival
dinner, and Overton, team captain, saying it was a well-balanced year. “They have a mutual respect for each other’s
skills. I wholeheartedly congratulate
to the event and rounding out the team were Alyssa Davis, a junior from New
Jersey, and Kaila Cornelius, a junior from Edenton, N.C.
The team and their
companions, a chaperone and 18 peers, were also treated to a special welcome
dinner—a highlight according to the students—arranged by Rilous Carter, vice
president of Catering, Convention Services and Park Event Operations at Walt
Disney World Resorts, and member of UMES’ Hospitality and Tourism Management
Department’s industry advisory board.
‘Chef’s Table’ was amazing,” Overton said.
Tables were set up in the catering kitchen of the Magic Kingdom’s
Contemporary Resort’s Convention Center, she said, so they could watch the chef
prepare a five-course meal. “It was a
culinary experience—not just a meal. The
chef came to our tables and explained the items on the menu and the
also took part in activities of the conference, most notably, Bouie said,
networking. “These are people that are
the top executives in the food service industry. I feel good about them seeing
us win for the second time, it will make us better known to them for the future
Culinary Challenge team members, from left,
are: Marlon Bouie, Alyssa Davis, Jade
Overton, Kaila Cornelius and Jamel Smith.
Gail Stephens, assistant director, UMES Office of Public Relations, 410-651-7580