In preparation for the honor to host the Midwest Regional Young Chef Competition in 2011, our third annual local contest took place in November with a record number of participants. Chef Rôtisseur Alan Neace coordinated the proceedings and judges included Chef-in-Residence Jean-Robert de Cavel, food critic and news columnist Polly Campbell, and radio host and Professionnel de la Table Marilyn Harris. Kitchens were occupied throughout the day with ambitious students, most of whom have restaurant and country club work-study commitments as well as classroom training.
When competition and judging were concluded, we gathered in the Summit at the Midwest Culinary Institute for a “Dine Around” where guests provide special bottles of wine to accompany the prix fixe dinner, also created by staff and students at MCI. When 50 bottles or more are set on tables, it becomes a very popular place! Delightful appetizers included beef carpaccio bruschetta with shaved black truffles, duck confit, and Stilton mousse canapés. Many samples and comparisons were considered until the announcement of medal winners was made. Gold Medalist Andrew Mersmann, Silver Medalist Dan Conroy, and Bronze Medalist Bob Whitmer were congratulated by Bailli Irwin Weinberg and Maître Hôtelier Dan Cayse. Chef Andrew was our winner and Midwest participant from last year’s competition, so past experience can definitely make a difference.
We then enjoyed a menu orchestrated by ACF Master Chef John Kinsella and realized by students under the watchful eyes of their culinary instructors. Cream of chestnut soup with garlic dust, Armagnac cream, and fried shallots preceded a seared yellowfin tuna salad course. Our entrée was a delicious veal chop with sautéed sweetbreads dressed with chervil and mustard cream sauce. A seasonal pumpkin crème brûlée with honey crisp apple bread pudding, and Chantilly crème finished our repast. Some notable wines came from Williams Selyam, Adelsheim, Robert Foley, Caymus, Stag’s Leap, Turley, Château Haut-Batailley, and Joseph Phelps. We cheer our Young Chef Andrew Mersmann as he joins winners from other local contests and encourage them all as they face the next round on the road to San Antonio!
J.T. Mayer, Chargé de Presse Provincial Midwest