A group of students from UVU’s Culinary Arts Institute recently won a gold medal at the Utah State Junior Hot Food Team Competition. It was the first student team gold medal in UVU history. The competition was sponsored by the Beehive Chefs Chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and held in conjunction with the Utah Restaurant Association Pro Start Career Fair.

The contest consisted of two phases. Phase one focused on team skills such as fish and chicken butchery, vegetable cutting and basic pastry preparation. Phase two covered the preparation and presentation of four portions of a four-course meal. Each team had to prepare the same classical appetizer dish.

The teams were then evaluated by ACF-certified judges, one of whom is a Certified Master Chef. Scoring areas included taste, work habits in the kitchen and accuracy of technique in the skills section.

“This was my second year coaching the UVU team, and the competition keeps getting tougher,” said Peter B. Sproul, team coach and UVU associate professor of culinary arts. “The quality of the food from all the teams was outstanding.”

Due to its award, the 2008-2009 Culinary Arts student team will advance to the ACF Western Regional Competition in Seattle, Wash., this April. The winners of that contest are then sent to a national championship competition scheduled for July 2009 in Orlando, Fla. Chef Sproul fully expects to see his team there.

“We have lots of work to do between now and April, but we have a team that’s fully capable of an outstanding performance in Seattle,” Sproul said. “We should be ready to challenge for the regional title, then the national one.”

Members of UVU’s culinary squad include Rick Suchoski of Utah, John Thomas of Texas, Jinkuk Lee and Myosook Lee of Korea and Anahi Childs of Mexico. All team members survived a rigorous culinary tryout to qualify for the team and represent UVU and the Culinary Arts Institute.

Established more than 17 years ago, UVU’s Culinary Arts Institute is rapidly growing both in name and recognition on the local, regional and national level, regularly bringing home medals and ribbons from competitions at all levels. With more than 100 students currently enrolled in the Culinary Arts Institute and another 100 or more on the waiting list, UVU will continue as a culinary force to be reckoned with.