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Penn State Dining Hosts Student Chef Challenge For Culinary Apprentices

Penn State is getting its own version of Chopped with Penn State Dining’s first culinary challenge for culinary apprentices in the dining halls. The challenge, sponsored by Barilla, asks teams of culinary apprentices from each dining hall to create an original pasta dish and compete against each other for the chance to showcase their dishes to students.

Students in a culinary apprenticeship begin as dining hall employees before they’re promoted based on an interest in cooking or a recommendation from a managing chef. For the challenge, culinary apprentices formed teams of two and worked with managing chefs to create, test, and modify their dishes.

The first “regional round” was held in each of the five dining halls on February 1, with some teams competing to move on and others moving on by default. Five teams will compete in the the final round on March 29 on the main floor of Redifer Commons, where students will be able to watch from start to finish.

The winners of the challenge will win a grand prize and possibly the chance to have their dish showcased in the dining halls this spring. According to Associate Director of Residential Dining Jim Meinecke, the dining hall menu committee will discuss whether to integrate the winning dish into next year’s menu after spring break.

Even in the challenge’s first year, Meinecke is hopeful it will grow into something bigger.

“My hope is that we can keep doing this every year and [this year’s participants] can tell the rest of their team that they had a lot of fun so we can try it again,” he said. “Hopefully it can grow each year.”

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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's student life editor. She is from Norristown, PA, which she normally refers to as "30 minutes outside of Philadelphia" (she looked up the exact driving time). She enjoys Broadway musicals, neck pillows, and eating cereal at night. To contact Gabriela, e-mail her at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @GabiStevenson if you want to feel young again.

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