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Findlay’s Porter, Jacobson Win Penn State Culinary Apprentice Challenge

Findlay culinary apprentices Jessica Porter and Johannah Jacobson came out on top in Penn State’s Culinary Apprentice Challenge in bustling Redifer Commons Thursday evening.

The competition, created in partnership with Barilla, challenged teams of two from each dining hall to create an original pasta dish to enter in the challenge. Teams competed with the same pasta dish in every round of the cook-off until one team from each dining hall reached the final.

Here’s a breakdown of the Final Five™ teams and the dishes they created:

Findlay Dining Commons (East)

Competitors: junior Jessica Porter, junior Johannah Jacobson

Dish: Pasta a la Russe

Warnock Dining Commons (North)

Competitors: sophomore Yuzhe Guo, sophomore Tong Deng

Dish: Eggplant Pasta with Tempura Oyster and Chinese Fried Eggplant

Waring Dining Commons (West)

Comptetitors: senior Avery Everett, sophomore Victoria Meagher

Dish: Zangy Nutty Noddles

Redifer Dining Commons (South)

Competitors: graduate student Kaitlyn Maliszewski, graduate student Jonathan German

Dish: Butter Lemon and Herb Linguine Seafood Medley

Pollock Dining Commons

Competitors: Noah Smith, Sarah Loring

Dish: Pasta di tre tipi (“Pasta of three types”)

Associate Director of Residential Dining Jim Meinecke, Corporate Executive Chef for Penn State Bill Laychur, and Food Service Business Development Manager from Barilla Michael Blight judged the final, 60-minute round and declared the team from East Food District the winner because of its dish’s flavor and presentation.

“We thought they did the nicest job marrying the flavors. There was a little bit of spice in the sauce and they also did a little bit of basil-pesto sauce on the side, so we got a little bit of that and it added some more flavor. Their presentation was excellent, too,” Meinecke said. “It was actually a really close competition with the scoring, but they just came out a little bit ahead.”

Porter and Jacobson each took home a pair of Beats headphones and a FitBit Charge 2. Both chefs expressed astonishment at their win.

“We would just practice at work when we had free time,” Jacobson said. “It definitely paid off.”

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About the Author

Gabriela Stevenson

Gabriela is a senior majoring in print and digital journalism and Onward State's former 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 really enjoys eating cereal at night, in case you were wondering. 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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