Monday, March 19, 2012

Randolph chef advances to national cooking competition

Randolph College’s top chef is heading to a national competition thanks to his culinary talent and improvisational skills.

Dave Wasson recently won the regional round of a contest called Aramark Culinary Excellence. (Aramark is the dining services company contracted by Randolph.) He competed against 15 other Aramark chefs from four different states to see who could quickly prepare a quality three-course meal using surprise ingredients—not unlike popular reality shows such as Chopped and Top Chef. He was one of three regional winners who will advance to the national Aramark contest in Orlando, Florida, in November 2012.

“I have taken part in this competition every year for the last six,” Wasson said. “My first year I placed third in my heat, and last year I took second, losing by less than a tenth of a point. That was a tough loss.

“Finally, this year, I broke through and made the national team. … I can’t begin to express how exciting it is to have achieved this accomplishment.”

In addition to winning a cooking contest, Dave Wasson also recently starred in this video about dining services at Randolph College.

In this year’s regional contest, Wasson was given a mystery basket with three ingredients. “In my basket I had Guinea fowl, red snapper, daikon radish, kiwi berries, and hard cider,” he said. He was given 15 minutes to write the menu, three hours to cook the meal, and 15 minutes to plate and serve the dishes.

Here are Wasson’s final masterpieces:

First Course

 Ricotta Gnocchi and Guinea Fowl Meatballs with Tomato Veloute and Basil Pistou (like a French cousin to pesto)

Second Course
Seared Red Snapper with Cider, Daikon and Pink Peppercorn Risotto, Haricot Vert and a Daikon and Herb salad with Cider Vinaigrette

Ganache Enrobed Layer Genoise (sponge cake) with Chocolate Mouse and Coffee Whipped Cream and Kiwi Berry Gastrique

Wasson said the contest coordinators commented that his cooking and food presentation have improved since his first competition six years ago, and he said the change is obvious to him, too.

He is looking forward to the national contest. “Orlando will be a nice place to visit in November!” he said.

Read more about Wasson and his approach towards managing the kitchen at Randolph College in this Randolph magazine story.