Ivy Tech Northeast hospitality students earn study trip to France in annual Mystery Basket competition

Eight Ivy Tech Community College Northeast Students won the Hospitality Administration program’s Mystery Basket Competition on Friday. They will travel to France to study French cuisine for two weeks. They are, from left: Patricia Pereira Pee, Sarah Marie Fox, James Cole Huffman, Caitlin Ruth Song O'Mara, Adam House, Glenda Hinton, Bryce Verfaillie and Eric Sauer

Eight Ivy Tech Community College Northeast Students won the Hospitality Administration program’s Mystery Basket Competition on Friday. They will travel to France to study French cuisine for two weeks. They are, from left: Patricia Pereira Pee, Sarah Marie Fox, James Cole Huffman, Caitlin Ruth Song O’Mara, Adam House, Glenda Hinton, Bryce Verfaillie and Eric Sauer.

The Hospitality Administration program at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast presented one of its biggest events of the year Friday: The Mystery Basket Competition. Out of 23 culinary, baking and pastry, and event management students, eight were selected to travel to France to study French cuisine and cooking.

Culinary students were given four hours and 15 minutes to create a trio of dishes from a surprise assortment of pre-selected ingredients. They were also tasked with breaking down a fish. Baking and pastry students created an assortment of baked goods, including filling an order for a decorated cake. This is the second year event management students were invited to participate. They must schedule an event for 200 people, including food, location, keynote speakers, and more.

“Past student winners have described the trip as once-in-a-lifetime, life-changing, incredible,” says Jeff Bunting, Hospitality Services program chair. “This is a great group of students.”

Eric Sauer, one of the eight Mystery Basket Competition winners, said he felt anxious and excited during the competition, and he doubted he’d win.

“I was convinced I wasn’t going to make it because I was coming so close on time, and I had so much to do still,” Sauer said.

Culinary student winners were Sauer, Adam House and James Cole Huffman. Baking and pastry student winners were Bryce Verfaillie, Caitlin Ruth Song O’Mara, Patricia Pereira Pee, Sarah Marie Fox, and Glenda Hinton.

The trip is financed through Ivy Tech Foundation scholarship funds, most of which are raised through the annual A Reason to Taste banquet.

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