Ivy Tech Community College Northeast hosted its 19th annual European Competition (formerly the Mystery Basket Competition) on Friday. Eighteen hospitality administration students in culinary arts, baking and pastry arts, or event management spent the day competing for a chance to win a scholarship that would pay for a trip to study the culinary arts in France.
The baking and pastry winners are Tasha Fullington, Jeanette Win, Teresa Thurston, and Joanne Holscher. The culinary arts winners are DeEdra Robinson, Rachel Bonkoski, and Julie Lowry. The event management winner is Brenda Zemaitis. They will travel to France in the spring to study the culinary arts, including lessons in cheese making and charcuterie, visits to vineyards, and classes at European restaurants.
Culinary students received a mystery basket of ingredients on-the-spot to turn into an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. They had four hours to compete their task. Baking and pastry students had 4 ½ hours to fill a decorated cake order and complete a fruit dessert, chocolate dessert, and yeast bread with one loaf and six dinner rolls. The event management students had 24 hours to plan a three-day conference with details including theme, hotel details, room set-up, budgeting, and more.
Kitchen judges watched and rated students as they worked, paying attention to technique and ability. Floor judges tasted the completed meals, not knowing which student made which plate. The score sheets are based on the College’s accrediting body, the American Culinary Federation.
“I’m pretty critical of them, and I’m quick to point out when things are good,” says Mike Bentz, a hospitality administration adjunct instructor and one of the culinary judges. “I’m hard on them, too, because you have to be. I get it: They’re students. They’re here to learn. But they’re getting a great big award for this.”