HOPKINS — Two Culinology Club students returned to Marshall from Culinology Fight Night on Oct. 18 in Hopkins with prize money, according to a Southwest Minnesota State University press release.
The challenge was sponsored by the Research Chef Association (RCA), Twin Cities Region. The SMSU students took home two of the top prizes in a hands-on challenge for scholarships.
Eudora Bixby won the first-place prize of $2,000 and Evan Steinhauser took third place with $1,000 prize.
The two SMSU students competed against two students from the University of Minnesota Food Science Program. Each student was paired with a professional from one of the corporate sponsors which included: Cargill, United Natural Foods, Inc., Ajinomoto, Fresh Nature, Norpac, Land O’ Lakes, Karlsburger, Qualitech, Monogram Foods, Winco, NordicWare, and Bloomington Custom Embroidery.
The Culinology Fight Night presents students with a mystery box of ingredients to utilize and best showcase in the preparation of three dishes. The rounds included appetizers, entrée, and dessert. The boxes contained the following ingredients for use in each round: extra virgin olive oil, goat cheese, MSG, green chickpeas, and fire-roasted corn for the appetizer; tri-tip steak, jumbo frozen shrimp, MSG, extra-melt white cheese sauce, and Three Amigos flavor base for the entree; and semi-sweet chocolate, frozen banana slices, roasted sesame oil, raspberry pell-ettes, and bacon for the dessert round.
Bixby is a senior culinology major and nutrition minor from Excelsior. She claimed the top prize. For the appetizer round, she made savory goat cheese and roasted corn latkes with green chickpea pesto and pickled red onions. Her entrée was a surf n’ turf “protein bowl” with grilled steak, shrimp, and yellow zucchini sauteed in a spicy honey butter sauce, queso with fire-roasted jalapeno over seasoned rice and fiesta veggies. She created a banana cheesecake mousse on a sesame chocolate-raspberry cake base, choco-raspberry sauce, sesame-brown sugar candied bacon, and Brulee banana.
“It was thrilling to apply the skills I’ve been learning at SMSU to a competitive format,” Bixby said. “I was amazed by what we were all able to do within the 30-minute rounds. It helped that I was paired up with an awesome professional — Nate Berg, a corporate chef at UNFI — who did a tremendous job taking my vision, splitting up our tasks, and offering advice. I couldn’t have done it without him.
Steinhauser, a junior culinology major from Plymouth, captured the third-place prize with his creations. He is a non-traditional undergraduate transfer student with a Culinary Arts AAS degree from Saint Paul College, and 3.5 years of experience in kitchens and bakeries.
In his appetizer round, he breaded and fried a green chickpea patty with fire-roasted corn inside, caramelized onions, and a side salad. In the entree competition, he made a Southwest skillet with grilled shrimp and tri-tip. His dessert was called “Eton mess,” a trifle of meringue bits with raspberry pell-ettes baked in, macerated fruit, candied sesame bacon bits, and chocolate shavings.
“It was stressful, but also rewarding. It’s one of those experiences that takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there,” he said. “But those experiences often yield better exposure to professionals and I’m really glad I did it.”
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