Wednesday, July 24, 2024

UNCW chef wins national collegiate cooking competition  

UNCW executive chef, Ryan Andress, won first place and a gold medal at the Aramark Collegiate Hospitality and Harvest Table Culinary Excellence Competition. (Courtesy Aramark)

WILMINGTON —- UNCW executive chef, Ryan Andress, struck gold again at a national collegiate culinary competition. 

Andress secured his second, first-place title and gold medal in the Aramark Collegiate Hospitality and Harvest Table Culinary Excellence Competition (ACE) on June 27. The competition was held at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, Texas.

He was one of eight finalists who advanced from the regional level earlier this year, where 114 collegiate chefs from across the country competed. Twenty of these chefs competed in Wilmington as UNCW hosted the competition for North Carolina and Virginia. Andress emerged as one of the eight national winners, representing the East.

The eight competing chefs raced against the clock in a speed service round, starting with 30 minutes for setup and menu submission before launching into four hours of cooking and service. In the final 40 minutes, they presented four portions of each course, focusing on taste, presentation, and nutritional balance. The competition finished in a mystery box challenge, where chefs created a four-course menu from a set of surprise ingredients.

The scoring was governed by the standards of the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Four ACF-certified judges evaluated both the kitchen performance and the tasting aspects. Focusing on serving methods, presentation, portion size, nutritional balance, creativity, menu coherence, ingredient compatibility, flavor, texture, doneness, and kitchen hygiene, technique, and timing.

His winning dishes included: 

  • Appetizer: Adobo roasted gulf shrimp with chimichurri, farro and apricot, tomatillo chow-chow. 
  • Soup: Spiced beef and black bean soup with citrus crema, crispy parmesan and gremolata. 
  • Salad: Texas “Summer” green salad with herb grilled chicken breast, strawberries, avocado, queso fresca, chili spiced almonds, chef’s vinaigrette. 
  • Entrée: Chicken fried local red snapper, sweet potato sunchoke hash, pickled chayote-jalapeno salad and pork belly braised collards. 

Andress has been the executive chef at UNCW since April 2011, starting as a grill cook at the university in 2004 and advancing to Residential Chef Manager in 2009. He honed his culinary skills at Cape Fear Community College, earning an associate degree in applied science in culinary technology in 2009. Andress is no stranger to competition: he won the Collegiate Hospitality National title and was an ACF  gold medalist in 2019. He also earned the Higher Education Regional silver medal in 2012 and the Higher Education National bronze medal in 2011, along with another ACF gold medal.

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