Culinary student wins regional award, first in college history
Ryan Spoehr, Clarion Editor in Chief
April 25, 2012
Filed under News
At the American Culinary Federation’s Central regional conference, the college’s Culinary Arts team won a silver medal, just narrowly missing a gold. However, the team had historic performances at this year’s event.
The conference, held April 14-16 in Detroit, awarded Marissa Bertram the title of Student of the Year. This would be the first time in Madison College’s history that a student was given such an honor.
The competition for Bertram included a cook-off that lasted only an hour and 10 minutes. Bertram started practicing several times per week this past fall. She would simply wheel a cart of food into the room and time herself in preparation for the event. She would time herself and receive feedback from coaches. Bertram used this method of preparation for several months.
“For a while I was practicing and I’d be a half-hour over. Then I cut it down to 15 minutes; then I cut it down to 10 minutes, then to five minutes, and finally I made it with a minute to spare,” Bertram said. “Actually at the competition, I literally had five seconds left on the clock when I stepped away and I was like, ‘I’m done.’”
The winning dish for Bertram included crepinette style chicken breast with ratatouille, creamy polenta, artichoke, and a tomato beurre blanc sauce.
“Really, I just made a dish that I would like to eat. They are all components that I love,” Bertram said.
As they sat down, Bertram received some feedback that impressed her instructor Paul Short.
“It was kind of neat. The judge said as we walked in, we sat down and they gave a critique, ‘this is singlehandedly the best plate I’ve tried all day,’” Short said. “Professional chefs were doing the same thing, vying for Chef of the Year. Her plate beat them, according to this judge.”
Bertram will now compete in the American Culinary Federation’s national competition in Orlando, July 14-17.
“I’m excited. I’ve been with the college for 19 years and we’ve been working this program to make it one of the top programs,” Short said. “A great program is not about the individuals that get to run that program. A great program is about students having success and finding great jobs. The better you can make your program, the better the odds are they are going to find great jobs.”
Short says that the amount of work the culinary students put in for something like this is “incredible.”
Julia Julien, a part-time culinary instructor and Madison College alumna won Pastry Chef of the year, another landmark for the college. As a team, Madison College won a state cook-off against Fox Valley Community College this past January, earning them a spot in the regional competition in Detroit. At the event, the team earned a silver medal.
The instructors and students definitely worked hard to make their successes become realities. “They come to school at 7:30 in the morning. They take all their classes including lab classes and whatever else they do for their degree,” Short said. “Then they stay here and they set up for practice. They walk out of the building sometimes at 10 o’clock at night.”