JJC Student Culinary Team Makes History with First Place Finish in Nationals

Joliet Junior College’s student culinary competition team made college history on July 26 when they placed first in the American Culinary Federation (ACF) national cooking competition in Dallas.

Competition photo gallery

Nearly a year of practicing paid off for the hot foods team as they sautéed and diced their way to first place earning the title of ACF National Student Team Champions.

The five-member team was given three hours and 20 minutes to prep and cook a four-course meal with 24 portions of each course with 60 minutes to plate and serve.

“I … have never come across a group of talented, driven and focused culinarians as we have seen in this group of students,” said JJC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Chair Chef Michael McGreal.

In addition to the team’s success, JJC student Aaron Guajardo III of Joliet was named 2011 ACF Student Chef of the Year.

Guajardo, 24, had two hours to prepare and cook an appetizer and main course. His appetizer consisted of littleneck clams and trout and main course of a deep-fried stuffed sausage with braised chicken.

Guajardo says his team was integral in his success.

“It was a collaborative effort,” he said. “We practiced as a team whether it was in preparation for the individual or team portion of the competition.”

Earlier this spring, the team prevailed in the ACF Student Team Central Region Championship on April 16-21 in New Orleans, which qualified them for the national contest. Guajardo also triumphed at the regional level winning Regional Student of the Year.

The victory at the national competition will be the fourth addition to the team’s already three gold medals since January.

Members of the team include, David Basile of Peotone, Robert Belanski of Plainfield, Laura Korte of New Lenox, Michael Shannon of Plainfield, and coaches Chef Kyle Richardson of New Lenox, Chef Tim Bucci of Oak Forest and Assistant Chef Suzette Simpson of Bolingbrook.

Also during the convention, JJC Chef Kyle Richardson, CEC, AAC, CCE, CHE, was inducted and sworn in as the American Culinary Federation’s vice president for the central region and McGreal, CEC, CHE, MCFE, CCE, FMP, was presented with the Presidential Gold Medal of Excellence from the ACF President Chef Michael Ty, CEC, AAC.

Chef Tim Bucci, CEC, CHE, CCE, CCJ, was honored by the American Academy of Chefs for his contribution to the ACF Culinary Team USA.

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