Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College's Culinary Team won a silver medal in the American Culinary Federation Student Team Championship July 26 in Grapevine, Texas.
"Winning the silver at the national level is exceptional," said Bronwen McCormick, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Education chair. "There are only a handful of people who are able to do that."
The competition requires student teams to prepare 24 plates of a four-course signature meal, while also being judged on their floor skills. Medals are awarded based on the number of points teams earn from a possible 40. A score of 36 is needed to receive gold.
A team from A-B Tech has made it to nationals five times in the past eight years after winning first place in state and regional competition. This year's team faced student chefs from the Joliet Junior College in Illinois, who won the only gold medal in the competition; Oregon Coast Community College and the Culinary Institute of America.
"I am extremely proud of our team, and enjoyed working with them the past 10 months," said Chef Charles deVries, Hospitality Education Instructor and a team coach. "During the pressure of a national competition they were calm, and organized. They communicated well and enjoyed working on what they love to do – cook."
Danny Schwalje serves as team captain while each member prepares a course. Members are Jonathon Zetterholm (appetizer), Stephen Hertz (salad), Tracy Williams (entree), and Sidney Ann Caton (dessert). Culinary Instructor/Chef Fred Snyder also serves as coach for the team.
"The team was excited going in and coming out of the competition. Over the course of the year, they all have grown and will take with them the satisfaction of being a part of a select group in the nation - the best of the best," said deVries.
Keith Schwock, a 2010 A-B Tech Culinary Technology graduate, was awarded a gold medal in the National Student Chef of the Year at the competition. "To watch him cook at that level gave me goosebumps," said McCormick. "He is a real A-B Tech success story."
Schwock is currently training under Master Chef Kevin Walker at the Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta. For the second year in a row, an A-B Tech graduate competed for the National Student Chef of the Year. Daniel Gorman, who also works at Cherokee, won a gold last year.
Cynthia Romstadt, a 2009 Culinary graduate, served as the apprentice to Kyongran "Alex" Hwang in the Pastry Chef of the Year competition. Alex, assistant pastry chef at Cherokee, won a gold medal and first place.
"Cynthia was outstanding to watch during the competition - so efficient, so confident, and so skilled and motivated to win," said Sheila Tillman, Associate Dean for Hospitality Education. "She later said that she has caught the competition spirit and hopes to compete for Student Chef of the Year in 2012. We were all quite proud of her accomplishments."