The team of Eric Stein, M.S., R.D., a chef-instructor at the Kendall College School of Culinary Arts, and Jaime Mestan, C.S.C., a Kendall College culinary alum (‘08) and research chef at Ed Miniat, Inc., in South Holland, Ill., took first place in the inaugural Professional Culinology® Competition, March 23 in San Antonio, Texas, held in conjunction with the Research Chefs Association’s (RCA) Annual Conference and Culinology® Expo.
Stein and Mestan beat two other teams, winning a gold medal and a $5,000 cash award with their entry of lobster paella bites, chicken and white-bean empanadillas and loaded patatas bravas (a cherished white-potato tapa of Spain). The competition, which was sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation (ACF), called for entries to consist of three frozen heat-and-serve tapas suitable for serving in a casual restaurant chain.
Prior to the competition, each team shipped its frozen products to San Antonio. On competition day, each team created the fresh versions of its commercialized concepts and was judged in part against how well the plated, commercialized products matched up against the fresh gold standards. Entries were judged by a panel of culinary R&D experts against criteria that included originality of concept, nutritional profile, manufacturing feasibility, flavor, aroma, texture, presentation and safety standards. The team of Stein and Mestan was announced as the winner at the RCA’s Awards Luncheon on March 24.
Following the announcement, Stein expressed a newfound appreciation for the role of chefs who work and create within two worlds—culinary arts and food science—the perfect melding of which results in satisfied diners and successful foodservice operators. “Participating in this competition and attending the RCA conference really gave me a better understanding of the diversity within the field of Culinology®,” he said.
The discipline of Culinology® was pioneered by the Research Chefs Association with the organization’s founding in 1996. The RCA represents more than 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, visit www.culinology.com.
Photo: (l. to r.) Competition judge Walter Zuromski, CEC, CCE, proprietor, Chef Services Group, Inc.; Stein; Mestan; Joel Berry, vice president of research & development, premier sponsor Quantum Foods; and event co-chair Christian “Kit” Kiefer, CEC, CCE, AAC, FMP, director of culinary services and corporate executive chef, Schwan’s Food Service, Inc., and incoming president of the Research Chefs Association.