JJC Culinary Arts student Diamond Taylor achieved the title of American Culinary Federation (ACF) Central Region Student Chef of the Year last month, beating out three other students who were selected to compete for the honor.
The Chicago Heights native worked hard with her coach, Culinary Arts Professor Tim Bucci, to prepare for the competition, spending hours practicing and refining her techniques. The hard work was worth it, she said.
“I actually love competing, it’s fun and I learn so much,” Taylor said. ”It can get really overwhelming, and some days I have to force myself out of bed to practice, but at the end of each practice I am proud of myself and whatever accomplishment I made that day. Chef Bucci has played a huge role in my accomplishment. He believed in me and gave me a chance when no one else really thought I would do well.”
Taylor’s winning dish was sautéed Cornish hen breasts with Cornish hen meatballs and Cornish hen braised leg with natural jus sauce. She also made a potato cauliflower gratin with diced butternut squash and butternut squash puree.
“Diamond has worked very hard to get to the level where she needed to be to win the regional competition,” said Chef Bucci. “She will need to work hard again and push herself to win the next and final stage of the student chef of the year competition. With hard work she will have a very good chance of going all the way.”
Taylor is now practicing for the national competition in July in Orlando, Fla., where she will compete against other regional student champions for the title of 2015 American Culinary Federation National Student Culinarian Champion.