Kennesaw State University Culinary Students Showcase Talents
Recently, the College of Continuing and Professional Education at Kennesaw State University put their Culinary Apprenticeship Certificate Program students to the test. Nine students who all come from different walks of life have one important thing in common: they are serious about food.
These budding top chefs participated in Mystery Basket Night led by Instructor Chef Frazer Breckenridge of Alpharetta. Each student was given a basket with a different protein, starch and vegetable, and was given an hour and a half hours to create, prepare, and plate the dish. On hand to sample their success included Breckenridge, College administrators and staff.
Culinary students participating were Spencer Barnett of Cartersville, Brittney Byrd of Acworth, Jacob Doss of Waleska, Joan Hill of Atlanta, Primus Jones Jr. of Marietta, Margaret Karidza of Powder Springs, Molly Kennamer of Scottsboro, Ala., Charles “CJ” Mulhearn III of Dallas and Whitney Thomas of Douglasville.
These students are about midway through the program that lasts nine months. In addition to attending class at KSU Center every Wednesday, they perform apprenticeship hours in a variety of locations including Endive Catering, Elevation Chophouse, Park 75 at Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, and Villa Cristina at Perimeter Summit. At the end of their studies they will have achieved 420 hours of instruction through the program including working in these special locations which enables them to learn from Atlanta’s most talented chefs and their world class teams.
In class, students have been instructed in sautéing, brazing, frying and poaching, and also basic vegetable prep. Breckenridge said that most recently he taught the class that centered around breakfast where the students learned how to prepare Hollandaise sauce and the perfect Eggs Benedict.
He said for the Mystery Basket Night challenge, he encouraged the students to review starches. In the challenge, students had sweet potato, grits, risotto or polenta in their basket.
Breckenridge said Risotto is the most challenging. Grits was another surprise to some who had never cooked the Southern staple.
“I’ve never made grits in my life,” said Ms. Kennamer. She was the first to complete her plate in the first group competing during the evening. Her plate featured Rosemary Grilled Chicken, Garlic-Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Grits. She was quick to take a picture and post it to Facebook so her mom could see it.
Student Brittney Byrd dazzled the tasters with her Garlic Infused Pork Chops, Sweet Potatoes with Maple Brown Sugar Glaze and Green Beans. The Sweet Potatoes were the star of her plate. “Wow,” Breckenridge said. “Very good.”
In the second group putting their skills to the test, Doss handled his task with confidence and maintained an organized approach to completing his plate, which included Fried Shrimp, Polenta, Green Beans and Tomatoes Zested Salad, and Remoulade.
“That’s what the Four Seasons has taught me to do – work clean,” he said when he was complimented on his work space.
Members of this group also showed a lot of mutual admiration for each other and were eager to sample the successes of their peers.
“I don’t even like goat cheese, but that is good,” Barnett said to Mulhearn about his Chicken Rouladen which was accompanied by Mushroom Cheesy Grits and Oven-Roasted Brussels Sprouts.
Breckenridge said teaching in this specialized certificate program has exceeded all his expectations and the skills of his students are impressive so much so that instructors and staff often pop in to check out what is happening on a Wednesday night.
“The students are great. I hear all the time in the building, especially at the KSU Center Bookstore, ‘We can smell what’s happening,’” he said with a laugh.
At the end of the night, there were no trophies awarded, but a lot of appreciative “oohs” and “ahhs,” and quite a few empty plates left behind to wash.
Breckenridge was delighted with their performances and gave them congratulatory fist bumps before class was concluded.
The class will graduate in June and the next class will begin Sept. 12, 2012. For more information, visit culinaryksu.com or call 770-423-6765.