Culinary fundraiser shows off students’ skills

The fine art of fine cooking will be on display at the annual Food and Beverage Expo this Saturday.

It’s a chance for Iowa Central Community College culinary students to show off their skills, and to give presentations on different kinds of food. It’s a chance for high schoolers, too, to participate in a cooking competition with prizes and scholarships.

It’s also a fundraiser to send the college students on to an even bigger learning experience- the annual food show in Chicago.

“It’s the biggest food show in the world, the National Restaurant Association Food Show, at the McCormick building,” said Chef Michael Hirst.

“It’s their biggest highlight of their two years here,” Hirst said. “It really opens their eyes to the whole industry.”

Admission to Saturday’s show is $10. Students will have different kinds of foods to sample, and more than 30 vendors will have displays, said Sue Heistand, business department non-credit coordinator.

In addition to free food samples, the students will sell soup for $1, half sandwiches for $1.50, or whole sandwiches for $3.

The culinary classes have been preparing soups including carrot and ginger, roasted red pepper, potato and herb soup, creamy mushroom, creamy spinach, and Borscht, a Ukrainian soup with beets, beef and potatoes, Hirst said.

Freshman Robert Leipold said his group will give a poultry presentation.

“We talk about different kinds of poultry. Chicken, turkey, different game birds,” Leipold said. “We’re comparing processed chicken to organic chicken, to show how organic is better for you in pretty much every way.”

Another group will display the pros and cons of corn-fed versus grass-fed beef, said freshman Drew Green.

Christina Smith, also a freshman, said she’s in the fruits and vegetables group, but they haven’t really worked out what they’re going to do yet.

“Possibly making a turkey out of fruit,” she said. “Possibly we’ll saute some things.”

At least six high schools will be in the cooking competition, said Heistand.

“The competition is judged by three judges, so they are judged on a lot of different things, like content, presentation, taste, all of that,” she said. “Plus they get to meet Chef, and it’s a good recruiting tool.”

Hirst and ICCC Master Baker Tom Pritchard will do a ” savory and sweet” pumpkin demo, Heistand said, and there will be cookie decorating for the kids.

All the money goes into the culinary program, she said.

Sara Kauffman said she’s excited about the Chicago show.

“It’s really going to open a new view, of how we view food,” she said. “It’s nothing like you find around here. A lot of sophomores say you come back a different person. You never see food the same way again.”