RCA Hosts Fifth Annual Student Culinology® Competition

RCA Hosts Fifth Annual
Student Culinology® Competition 

Southwest Minnesota State University Takes First Place

For Immediate Release                          Contact:  Anneliese D. Klainbaum 
(678) 303-2968 x7

ATLANTA (April 11, 2011)

Six finalist teams from Johnson & Wales University-Providence, Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University, Southwest Minnesota State University, University of Guelph, and University of Minnesota gathered in Atlanta last month to compete for first place in the fifth annual Research Chefs Association (RCA) Student Culinology® Competition.  The competing teams each developed a Southern-themed dessert concept featuring peaches for a family-style restaurant chain, which included the development of both the gold standard recipe and a corresponding product formulation.

The competition, supported by Competition Star Sponsors National Starch Food Innovation, GPI, Inc., and Wawona Frozen Foods, is designed to challenge and recognize the industry's young talent in the Culinology® field - the blending of culinary arts and food science.

The winners of the Student Culinology® Competition were announced on March 5 at the RCA Annual Luncheon, where nearly 400 food product development professionals gather each year to celebrate outstanding industry achievements.  A talented student team from Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU) won first place, along with a $5,000 cash award and industry-wide recognition as rising stars in food product development.  Their award was presented by Agnes Jones, principal culinologist at National Starch Food Innovation.

The winning team from SMSU was led by faculty advisor Michael Cheng and team leader KayLee Ryker. Team members included Stephanie Grau, Ashley Moore, and Chad Woelfle.

"It's the first time we've entered the competition...the students did a great job. We were up against some very strong competition," says Michael Cheng, director of the Culinology® program at SMSU.

Their winning entry was a dessert entitled Good as Grandma's Peach Cobbler with Vanilla Buttermilk Ice Cream, a decadent and flavorful peach cobbler that evoked memories of grandma's kitchen, with natural brown sugar and wholesome pecans adding a new twist to this old favorite.  Served with vanilla buttermilk ice cream, the students aimed to create a perfect balance of tangy and sweet, hot and cold.

A student team from Johnson & Wales University-Providence placed second, and a team from the University of Guelph placed third.  

The competing teams each developed their gold standard recipes and the corresponding product formulations.  One week prior to the competition, teams shipped their pre-portioned, frozen dessert items to the event location. On-site at the live competition in Atlanta, teams prepared their fresh, gold standard menu items.

In a Culinology® Match Test, competition judges compared each team's reheated and plated frozen items against their corresponding freshly prepared items on the day of the event. The competition focused on various Culinology® elements, such as flavor, aroma, texture, ingredient composition, presentation, and authenticity, among many other components.

Nicholo Plaza, corporate chef for GPI, Inc., presented the second place award and was impressed by the caliber of the competition.  He says, "The student competition was a great way to see the creativity and innovation of the people who will soon be entering our industry.  I think the future is looking bright. GPI is very proud to have sponsored the event."

RCA congratulates all student teams for their participation and healthy competitive spirit in this successful annual event.  For more information about the Student Culinology® Competition or RCA's Annual Conference and Culinology Expo, please visit www.culinology.org

More information and photos are available upon request by contacting Anneliese Klainbaum at aklainbaum@kellencompany.com


Founded in 1996, the RCA has rapidly grown to over 2,000 members, including chefs, food scientists, technologists, writers, nutritionists, academicians, researchers, consultants, sales and marketing professionals, suppliers, co-packers, distributors and students.  RCA is the premier source of culinary and technical information for the food industry, and is committed to the advancement of Culinology® -the blending of the culinary arts and food science.  For more information, please visit the RCA Web site at www.culinology.org.


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