Michigan Show 2023 - Pushing Boundaries

From April 19th to the 23rd, the Culinary Team embarked on a memorable trip to Port Huron, Michigan, for the largest ACF Competition of the year. This event showcased a wide array of ACF competitions, ranging from edible cold food platters to tableside cooking and multi-course mystery baskets, among others. It served as a fitting start to the team's preparations for Nationals, marking a significant milestone in their journey. The core five members of the menu team, who will be competing at Nationals, also participated in individual competitions.

Team Captain Melina Sosa ventured into the realm of pastry, tackling a challenging dish featuring a composed entremet. As a culinary student with a diverse culinary background, this training camp posed a unique challenge for her. Impressively, she achieved a mid-range silver medal—a truly remarkable feat for only her second individual ACF competition and mastering a composed dessert.

Our esteemed resident pastry chef and finalist for Student Pastry Chef of the Year astonishingly took on a culinary dish for the first time. Vanessa Ruiz, fondly known as "Baker Nessa," showcased her best culinary skills and emerged as the sole gold medalist among the Core Culinary Five. This accomplishment allows her to interchange her nickname between "Baker Nessa" and "Cooker Nessa," as she has proven herself to be a student armed with an impressive culinary repertoire. Regardless of her role in the kitchen, she consistently surpasses expectations, a testament to her exceptional talent. Thankfully, there was no need for her to pipe "Happy Birthday" on anything this time around.

The remaining three competitors from the core five team continued the trend of breaking new ground. They took on the challenge of preparing hot culinary dishes using proteins they had not previously worked with. Tatiana Torres, our skilled salad maker, ventured into the realm of Arctic Char. Transitioning from cornish hen, which she prepared in December for her first individual competition, to an advanced fish dish is no small feat. Yet, she handled it with incredible skill, delivering an outstanding performance. The same can be said for the other two competitors. Indio Alvarado-Robles, our go-to fabrication specialist, ventured into the realm of Greek-style chicken trio—a formidable undertaking that required expert handling of different chicken components, from the forcemeat drumstick to the stuffed bell pepper, alongside the meticulous preparation of the fondant potato and avgolemono sauce. As only the second person to attempt this dish, his silver medal is a testament to his remarkable talent. Likewise, student Mikayla Pabroada tackled the notoriously challenging rabbit dish, crafting a forcemeat and stuffing it into the saddle—a task that demands precision. Even for someone like myself who has never worked with rabbit, I can only imagine the difficulty I would face attempting it in my second semester. However, this incredible student rose to the occasion and secured a well-deserved silver medal. Truly remarkable.

Each of these competitors pushed the boundaries of their knowledge, embracing challenges and displaying unwavering passion and dedication. Their hard work, evident in every practice session, trip, and competition, is a testament to their love for the craft.