In her first year of participation in ARAMARK’s Culinary Excellence program, UTC Executive Chef Linda Davis earned one of three coveted spots on a team of executive chefs chosen to represent the Southern Region in the national ACE competition. The event will be held in Tampa in summer 2011.
Beginning in Orlando at the University of Central Florida, Davis won the gold medal in a qualifying event, competing against numerous chefs. To qualify for the team that will compete in Tampa, Davis joined eight fellow medalists from across the region at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, where she whipped up an amazing meal.
Davis was served a mystery basket of ingredients featuring an entire striped bass, dried chickpeas, raw beets, raw okra, eye of round and Gorgonzola cheese. The chefs were judged on kitchen skills, presentation, taste and menu viability.
“Linda had 20 minutes to prepare a menu and three hours to prepare a meal,” said Tim McWilliams, Senior Food Service Director at UTC. “She rehydrated the chickpeas and created a sweet pastry; she used a pressure cooker to tenderize the eye of round in port wine; the Gorgonzola was incorporated into a fish cake dish, created from the striped bass; and she brushed the okra with oil, garlic and salt and grilled it. She also grilled the beets.”
McWilliams explained Davis’ hard work is not confined to competition. “The same amount of attention goes into the food prepared for students, faculty and staff at UTC,” McWilliams said.
Earlier this academic year, Davis graduated from the Aramark ProChef Certification program. Partnering with the Culinary Institute of America, the program is a comprehensive professional development and culinary skills verification program which measures core culinary, managerial and financial acumen, including a chef’s skill in taste, proper cooking methods, authenticity, plating, use of all ingredients, hygiene and disposal of food waste.