Team Mexico was named champion of the seventh biennial Nations’ Cup International Student Culinary Competition on Saturday during the event’s awards dinner. The Grand Rapids Community College Secchia Institute for Culinary Education hosted the competition as Team USA was represented by two GRCC students.
The competition began Thursday morning and concluded Saturday night at an awards dinner.
The dinner began with the three judges for the evening being introduced. Angus Campbell, a retired Secchia Institute for Culinary Education professor hailing from Scotland was the first of the three. Following him was Corporate Executive Chef at Amway Hotel Corporation Josef Huber and Executive Chef at St. Andrews Links Ian Mcdonald.
“I’m not gonna give away our ages, but we probably have 100 years of experience between the three of us, and we learn something new every time from the students,” Campbell said.
Once the judges had taken their seats at the judges table, the four teams were introduced. The two students from each team proceeded to the front of the judges table carrying their respective nation’s flag followed by their coach. The first team to be introduced was Canada, followed by Mexico, Scotland and USA, in that order.
Among those in attendance at the dinner were GRCC Provost Dr. Brian Knetl, Trustee Kathleen Bruinsma and President Bill Pink.
“What you are experiencing tonight is only the culmination of several days of competition and before those competition days, several days of preparation,” Pink said during his opening speech.
As the dinner officially got underway, guests waited patiently at their table for the first dish to be served. As the students were actively working in the kitchens, there were monitors in the banquet room with a live stream showing the food that was being prepared.
The cold appetizer, prepared by Team Mexico, was Oaxaca’s Head Cheese, Little Quelites Salad and Smoked Tlayudas. The dish was given to each guest with several student volunteers carrying out trays of it to each table. As the guests ate, the two competitors for Team Mexico approached the judges table. Gabriela George Hernandez and Emilio Leal Cruz introduced themselves in spanish to the judges, then continued by presenting their dish in English.
Each of the teams followed this same routine, with Team USA preparing the fish dish, Scotland preparing the poultry dish and Canada preparing the meat course.
It was a lively dinner throughout, with much to celebrate for all of the culinary students involved. Team Mexico won the Nations’ Cup as a whole, scoring four best of show dishes and one silver medal. Team USA, made up of GRCC students Sidney Hyde and Shaylan Owen, finished with two silver medals, five gold medals and the pasta best of show. Team Canada finished with one silver medal, six gold medals as well and the poultry best of show. Lastly, Team Scotland finished with two three silver medals, two gold medals, two bronze medals and the Nation’s Dish best of show.
“Every year all the students win,” Campbell said. “They get to try each others food.”
Feature Editor Maxx Kriger contributed to this report.