Team CINY Earns Gold Medals at Chris Neary Memorial Culinary Challenge

Monroe College’s Culinary Institute of New York (CINY) was proud to join the American Culinary Federation’s Long Island Chapter last Saturday to host the Annual Chris Neary Memorial Culinary Challenge on campus.

Held in the Culinary Arts Center in New Rochelle, students from CINY and other area culinary programs put their culinary talent and creativity to the test as they competed for recognition and ACF competition medals. The event features a culinary and pastry track, with a separate track for professionals and culinary educators to compete.

Team CINY was on their A game at the event, earning 11 medals – including eight gold medals – at this annual competition, putting their overall medal count to an impressive 1052. The core group of students that will represent CINY at the national ACF championship in Las Vegas this summer each scored a gold medal.

It was an impressive group of participants indeed. Many were first-time competitors, not that you would know from the gold, silver, and/or bronze medals they earned at the event.

The top-scoring pastry dish was earned by Ebbonie (Chanel) Valet from the High School of Fashion Industries in downtown New York City with an impressive dish called “Americana Sampler.” It featured a chocolate s’mores cake, apple cobbler, and peanut butter and jelly ice cream.

The top-scoring culinary dish was equally tempting. It was prepared by Kaylynn Figueroa, the 2021 winner of our “America’s Best High School Chef Competition” from St. Jean Baptiste High School in New York. She made a chicken dish featuring a Morrocan braise with dried fruits and homemade orecchiette pasta with oyster mushrooms, tomato, cream, and truffle oil.

his annual competition is named in honor of Chef Chris Neary, a former ACF Northeast Regional Vice President and long-time supporter of students who passed away four years ago after a courageous battle against cancer. He was well known to CINY and an ardent supporter of its students. He passed just a few months before his dear friend Chef George Molloy, a beloved CINY instructor.

Frank Costantino, the dean of the School of Hospitality Management and head coach of CINY’s competition team, competed at the event as well, as did his two sons, Jake Costantino (a 2021 Monroe graduate) and Frank J. Costantino (currently enrolled). The Costantinos had a great event, earning one gold and two silver medals among themselves.

“I am always blown away with the sense of community CINY has created,” said competition judge Chef Mickey Beriau, a retired chef from Cape Cod, MA. “Whenever I leave the school and the students, my life and heart are reminded that there is hope for a perfect world filled with love and joy!”

The event’s other judges were: Chef Joe Leonardi, Certified Master Chef (one of 62 in the US) and lead judge; Chef David Turcotte, retired US Army Chef; Chef Michel Stamets, Dean of Hospitality at SUNY Broome County Community College; and Chef Victor Sommo, Chef instructor at SUNY Delhi.