Friday, April 22, 2016
Diamond Chef is Finally Home.
And in the case of Thursday night’s event, the still-new facility opened up a new future for the standard competition. Bringing the battle to the actual classroom space where the students who benefit from its proceeds learn each day brought down ticket prices and allowed culinarians to show off in their showcase positions.
While battle waged on between six of Arkansas’s finest chefs, attention fell equally upon stations where students performed acts of cake decorating, chicken preparation and bartending.
The six chefs – Chef Bonner Cameron, owner and executive chef at Bistro Catering and Gourmet Take Away; Chef Philippe Ducrot, faculty at Pulaski Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute; Chef Donnie Ferneau, executive chef at The 1836 Club; Chef Justin Knapp, executive chef at Sysco Arkansas; Chef Angela Nix, executive chef at The Quarter; and Chef Justin Patterson, owner and executive chef at Southern Gourmasian – went after the beef with gusto, and between the six created twelve unique and gorgeous dishes presented before the judges.
While the competition was underway, attendees dined at several stations on such things as Indian curried chicken-filled arancini balls, pulled pork sliders, beef short rib, edamame dip, stuffed tomatillos, and more – even a croquembouche of pistachio-laden tiramisu cream puffs! They also bought chances in a Bon Appétit Bag Pull for chances at culinary experiences and merchandise, and a Wine Pull.
Upstairs in the hospitality lab, competitions were held in towel origami and demonstrations were given in how to fold fitted sheets. Downstairs, student-created microbrewery beers, root beer and cream soda were sampled and knife skills were demonstrated.
After two rounds of beef creations, the judges whittled down the field to two finalists – Chef Jason Knapp and Chef Donnie Ferneau, who competed with two more rounds. This time, heritage poultry was the star, and both chefs were able to take advantage of the entire bird.
Once the smoke (or, well, the quick char on some chicken bits here and there) had cleared, and with a very tight margin between the two, Chef Donnie Ferneau won the battle.
But Pulaski Technical College and the Arkansas Culinary School are the real winners here, as evidenced by grinning students and instructors who were able to smile and share their unique and excellent facility and show off their skills and finished products to a crowd of food lovers they’d invited to their culinary home.
If you'd like more information about the Arkansas Culinary School, please click here.