11-15-2013. Montpelier. At New England Culinary Institute’s sixth annual Culinary Classic Competition culinary students from ten Vermont technical schools raced to create three dishes in an hour and a half—a white bean, tomato and greens soup appetizer, a chicken breast with thyme buerre blanc and risotto entrée and a sweet crêpe dessert. The clock was ticking as each team opened their box of mystery ingredients and started chopping and began their mise en place (French for setting up your ingredients). Tension was high and the low murmur of the crowd grew to applause as the teams, in their black caps, striped caps and black toques and white toques stepped back from their stations ninety minutes later.
The judges, NECI’s own Chef Lyndon Virkler, Chef Kathleen Kessler, and Chef Jean-Louis Gerin watched from their dais at the head of the room, nodding and speaking in hushed tones. Each judge tasted each dish.
And the winner?
St. Johnsbury Academy—Chef David Hale, instructor, team members Samantha Jeffrey (St. Johnsbury, VT), Max Deaton (St. Johnsbury, VT), Katelyn Hartwell (Lyndonville, VT). Second place went to the Hartford Career and Technology Center team, led by Chef Aron Tomlinson; Charlie Moye (Canaan, NH), Heather Bailey (Enfield, NH), and Kyle Perkins (Quechee, VT). Third place went to the River Valley Technical Center team, led by Chef David Groenewold; Brenna Gallagher (Landgdon, NH), LelseyHildreth (Springfield, VT), and Elizabeth Manuel (Mt. Holly, VT)
I am really proud of our team. Preparation for the classic was a little chaotic, but Katelyn, Sam and Max crammed a whole bunch of practices into a short amount of time. They worked very hard and it was really great to see them working with professional efficiency at the competition. Each one of them is very excited about attending NECI and winning has given them a huge boost. –Chef David Hale, St. Johnsbury Academy
The team really came together and utilized each other’s abilities. They communicated well, and listened to one another while they prepared. The strength of the team really came down to blending each members respected talents. The rest of the class was also super supportive in pushing the group to do their best. I couldn’t be more proud.
—Chef Aron Tomlinson, Hartford Career and Technology Center
The top three teams will receive scholarships to New England Culinary Institute of up to $4000 for each team member.
Full list of 2013 New England Culinary Institute Culinary Classic participating teams:
Center for Technology, Essex Junction
Green Mountain Technology and Career Center, Hyde Park
Hartford Area Career and Technical Center, White River Junction
Randolph Technical Career Center, Randolph
River Bend Career and Technical Center, Bradford
River Valley Technical Center, Springfield
Southwest Vermont Career Development Center, Bennington
St. Johnsbury Academy, St. Johnsbury
Stafford Technical Center, Rutland
Windham Regional Career Center, Brattleboro
Check out photos of the event on NECI’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/necidotedu.
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To learn more about NECI’s programs and restaurants, go to www.neci.edu.