JJC Hot Foods Team Wins ACF State Competition, Advances to Regionals

The Joliet Junior College Culinary Arts Department’s hot foods team won the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Illinois State Championship on Feb. 8 – the first in a series of competitions that could lead them back to the ACF National Championship, where they received the gold medal and came back home as first place winners last summer. This time, JJC’s team competed against Le Cordon Bleu, the College of DuPage, and Madison Technical College at Le Cordon Blue in Chicago. They will advance to the regional competition, taking place in St. Louis, Mo., on March 17.

Pictured from left to right: Tiara Salazar of Joliet, Laci Lanclos of Peotone, Ryan Reigh of Minooka, Bryan Prado of Plainfield, Marek Lubecki of Romeoville.

Though JJC’s culinary students are no strangers to winning first place medals, this year the team is made up of an entirely new cast, and the state championship marked the first time the team worked together in a competition setting.

View photos from the competition

“JJC has a rich history of award-winning competition teams,” said team coach, Chef Paul Bringas. “Our students take pride in that and want to continue the tradition.”

“We were just elated after we won. I am so proud to be a student at JJC,” added Laci Lanclos, JJC hot foods team captain. Lanclos and one other team member are second-semester freshmen.

During the competition, the students created a four-course meal that included an Escoffier appetizer, a salad course, the main entrée and a pastry.

Lanclos said the team practices for 30 hours a week, in addition to their classes, family life and jobs.

“We were nervous just because we had been practicing for so long and we finally got to display what we’d been practicing for. But we went in with confidence and we just sailed right through everything,” she said. “We had to learn about each other and we came together as a team to pull it off. But it was awesome and we were so excited that we won!”

Now that they have a state championship under their belt, Lanclos said the team is already preparing for the regional competition, and they’ve added a cold platter to their practice routine.

“Most of us haven’t done a cold platter before in a competition. But we’ve got a great group of chefs helping us out, and I think our platter is going to be fantastic at the regional competition,” Lanclos said.

Members of JJC’s hot foods team include: Laci Lanclos of Peotone, Tiara Salazar of Joliet, Ryan Reigh of Minooka, Bryan Prado of Plainfield, and Marek Lubecki of Romeoville; apprentices Juanita Marshall and Diamond Taylor; and coaches Chef Paul Bringas and Chef Mark Muszynski.

For more information about JJC’s Culinary Arts Department, visit http://www.jjc.edu/academics/divisions/career-technical/culinary-arts/Pages/default.aspx.

About NewsRoom