Culinary students sharpen skills

Food Scene Eugene returns to Lane campuses

Christopher Palanuk // The Torch
Sous chefs Trevor Rivera (far left) and his sous chef Zac Schnieder from the restaurant Marché compete against Alejandro Cruz (far right) and his sous chef Alyssa Kitaguchi from the restaurant Novo Latin Table prepare their dishes in the final heat of the Iron Chef Eugene competition during Food Scene Eugene event. Cooking with secret ingredients chosen by Lane’s head chef Clive Wanstall, the two teams had to create a dish using frog legs and cricket pasta and pair it with a random wine to impress a panel of judges.

For the last three years Lane Community College has presented the public with the annual Food Scene Eugene Food and Drink Festival. The entire event was organized by Lane students. With the help from a few advisors, Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management students have worked for months in preparation for the event.

According to the Food Scene Eugene website the festival is planned to encompass how food and drink can be related to art, technology and innovation. The purpose of the event is to be a test to see if culinary and hospitality students can successfully carry out a food and drink art festival for the community.

On Saturday, festivities included an Azunlia Tequila Cinco de Mayo cocktail party and dinner at Lane’s downtown campus. Party goers enjoyed appetizers and cocktails that were the top choices from last year’s Best Bite and Sips competition. The Best Bite and Sips is an event in which Lane culinary students compete against one another and Eugene’s top mixologists showcase their finest work. Later, the guests made their way downstairs to indulge in a four course meal provided by Lane’s culinary staff and students.

Shelly Kane is a Marketing and Community Relations Coordinator for the Center for Meeting and Learning. Kane helped put the festival together and offered support as an advisor for the Hospitality Management students.

“The idea of this festival is to give our culinary arts and hospitality students a hands on learning experience before graduating, our management students were able to fully plan, coordinate and execute the event,” Kane said. “Our culinary students are mentored by the ‘iron chefs’ that we bring in for the Saturday portion of the event on the main campus.”

Kane explained that the iron chefs, who are local chefs, mentored the four students who prepared the three course dinner for Friday’s event at the downtown campus. This year Trevor Rivera representing Marché, Michael Zito representing Mame, Alejandro Cruz representing Novo Latin Table and Vincent Tsatsakis representing Soriah all participated as the iron chefs. Each chef works in a different kind of restaurant, bringing a diversified and unique blend of tastes to the table.

“I’ve worked at Soriah for about a year now, I moved here from Belgium to try and find new ideas and techniques for food,” Tsatsakis said. “Tonight though I’m really happy about the food that I made with my chef, it really speaks to me like ‘look at me,’ it feels like something that I would have made on my own time.”

Tsatsakis went on to express his thrill for working with students and also loves a good competitive challenge.

“Living in Eugene and working with people here has really brought me back to my roots, I grew up in Belgium but my dad is from Greece and my mom is from Spain, so finding all kinds of mediterranean food here is really great,” Tsatsakis said.

Naomi Kimmelman is a first year hospitality management student who shared her thoughts on the festival’s logistics.

“We started planning this event about nine months ago, but we’ve spent the last couple of weeks getting all the small details together,” Kimmelman said. “This event is really about the students gaining experience working alongside professionals. Shelly Kane is my idol — she’s a really great influence.”

The second day of the event was held on the main campus at the Center for Meeting and Learning in Building 19. The festivities began at 4:30 p.m. with the first iron chef competition heat, and concluded with the raffle and awards ceremony.

Walking into the event there was an ice sculpture where servers poured drinks through the top then flowing into guests and also vendor booths where more local food and drinks were served. The Best Bite chefs were centered around the Center for Meeting and Learning lobby and the iron chef and mixologist demonstrations were the centerpiece of the conference room.

Danny Barnum representing Marché and Jason Randall representing Soriah competed in the first mixologist heat. John Anderson representing Plank Town Brewing Company and Andrew Lathrop representing Belly Taqueria competed in the second. Lathrop eventually won all together.

Culinary student Jeremy Max won first place in the Best Bite competition, fellow students Evelyn Sanders and Alyssa Foust took 2nd and 3rd.

In the iron chef competition, Rivera and Zito went head to head in the first heat with Rivera coming out on top. In the second heat Cruz and Tsatsakis faced off with Cruz taking the win. Cruz later took the overall victory against Rivera in the final round and was later crowned the Iron Chef of 2017.