One spot at UW-Stout is guaranteed to be red hot on Valentine’s Day.
The second annual Recipe for Excellence culinary competition will be held Thursday, Feb. 14, in the Great Hall of the Memorial Student Center. A total of 24 high school students, in teams of two, will cook from 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in staggered starts. Awards are at 1:30 p.m.
The event is open to the public, with a spectator viewing area available.
Similar to the Food Network’s “Iron Chef” television cooking show, student chefs will have a set amount of time, 60 minutes, to prepare two identical pork entrees and side dishes on butane burners. One entrée will be for taste-testing by judges and one for display.
Teams also will be judged on menu design, cost analysis, safety and sanitation, presentation and fundamental cooking techniques.
Wisconsin high schools competing will be Amery, Clayton, Green Bay Preble, Lakeland, Luck, Middleton, Neenah and Pewaukee. Preble will have two teams and Pewaukee four teams.
First- through third-place students will win $500, $200 and $100 scholarships to UW-Stout, along with trophies and medals. The judges will be faculty from UW-Stout’s hotel, restaurant and tourism management undergraduate program and from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association.
“The competition is an exciting way for high school students to showcase their culinary skills,” said event director Brian Bergquist, professor in UW-Stout’s School of Hospitality Leadership. “These students may be interested in culinary food service and hospitality as a possible career area.”
The event will serve as a warmup for a state competition, the ProStart Invitational Thursday, March 12, in Milwaukee as part of the Wisconsin Restaurant Show. The state winner advances to the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation ProStart Invitational May 8-10 in Washington, D.C.
Bergquist has been a judge at ProStart state and national competitions for the past 12 years and is a member of the WRA Education Foundation Board of Directors.
The School of Hospitality Leadership and Wisconsin Restaurant Association Education Foundation are hosting the competition. Sponsors include Hormel, ConAgra, Chef Works, Mercer Cutlery and Pepsi.
The School of Hospitality Leadership, celebrating its 50th anniversary, is ranked No. 8 in the world and No. 6 in the U.S. by CEOWorld magazine. The school also recently was named one of the best in the U.S. by Hotel Management magazine.
Brian Bergquist, right, and Kristal Gerdes of the School of Hospitality Leadership present awards at the 2018 Recipe for Excellence culinary competition at UW-Stout. This year’s event is Feb. 14.
Students prepare a pork entrée with side dishes in the 2018 Recipe for Excellence competition.