Culinary Arts Dominates Western Regional Competition!

Utah Valley University’s Culinary Arts Institute once again proved its mettle by taking several top awards at the ACF’s Western Regional Conference, held at California’s Oakland Marriott City Center March 2–5.  To see pictures from the competition CLICK HERE.

UVU students kept their cool while facing dozens of competitors from Utah, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona, and it paid off — as every competitor from UVU’s Culinary Arts Institute who competed in the Regionals came home with a medal, something no college has ever done before.

UVU culinary arts student Victor Perez Ruiz was named the 2014 Western Regional Student Chef of the Year. Perez is only the third UVU student chef to ever to win the prestigious accolade. The ACF Student Chef of the Year Award recognizes an up-and-coming student who possesses a high degree of professionalism, culinary skill and passion for the culinary arts. At the regional competition, Ruiz had just 1 hour to prepare two portions of a main dish that incorporated a whole bone-in chicken for a panel of judges. Ruiz will graduate with an associate degree in culinary arts this May. After graduation, he wants to gain experience in traditional cooking and work at restaurants that use farm-to-table practices.

UVU adjunct professor Jinkuk Lee took the 2014 ACF Western Region Chef of the Year Award, preparing four portions of a main course in 1 hour and beating out three other outstanding full-service culinarians. Lee is the chef de cuisine at The Chef’s Table in Orem, Utah. Originally from South Korea, Lee moved to the U.S. to learn more about the culinary industry, graduating from UVU’s Culinary Arts Institute. He has competed in ACF-sanctioned competitions since 2008 and has received several gold and silver medals.

Perez and Lee will advance to the national competition in Kansas City, Mo., July 25–29, to compete against the other three region’s winners in their respective categories for the national title.

Also, the UVU culinary student competition team won a gold medal at the 2014 ACF Western Regional Conference’s team competition. During the two-day event, the five-person team spent almost 12 hours preparing a cold platter for display. They also participated in a knife skill competition, followed by a frantic 90-minute challenge to prepare four identical plates of hot food for the judges.

Not to be outdone at the Western Regional Conference, a group of UVU culinary arts students also participated for the first time ever in the Knowledge Bowl, coming away with a bronze medal. The Knowledge Bowl is a Jeopardy-like game that includes sensory questions, hidden pictures and challenging culinary, baking, nutrition, sanitation and math questions.

“This is a celebration of the dedication, effort and commitment our entire UVU team of students, faculty and partners have invested over the past seven years,” said Peter Sproul, UVU Culinary Arts Institute department chair. “The students recognized for their accomplishments are a great example of the commitment to success we offer students at the Culinary Arts Institute here at UVU. These students truly are our future, and I am honored and proud to be associated with a University that understands that and is so committed to student success.”

The ACF Western Regional Conference, hosted by ACF San Francisco Chapter, drew hundreds of chefs, cooks and foodservice professionals over the four-day period. Themed “Embracing a Sustainable Future,” the conference included many demonstrations and seminars focused on how to incorporate green and sustainable cooking concepts into restaurant kitchens and onto menus.

The American Culinary Federation, Inc. was established in 1929 and is the standard of excellence for chefs in North America. With nearly 20,000 members spanning 200 chapters nationwide, the ACF is recognized as the culinary leader in offering educational resources, training, apprenticeship and programmatic accreditation. For more information, visit acfchefs.org.

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