Clemson’s Food Science Culinology Teams Make it Big in San Antonio, Texas

Written by Dr. Aubrey Coffee, team mentor of both Clemson Culinology teams which participated.

Six finalist teams from Clemson University, Southwest Minnesota State University, the University of Guelph, Penn State, and the University of Nebraska gathered in San Antonio, TX last month to compete for first place in the six annual Research Chefs Association (RCA) Student Culinology® Competition.  The competition focus this year was appropriate for the area, a Tex-Mex Appetizer featuring pork that could be found in a club store, such as Walmart or Costco. Each competing teams developed both the gold standard recipe and a corresponding product formulation. The competition is designed to challenge and recognize the industry's young talent in the Culinology® field - the blending of culinary arts and food science.

Clemson, who had two teams competition, had a wonderful showing during the student competition on Thursday and the poster presentation during the Conference’s Expo on Friday.  During the Award Luncheon on Saturday, March 24th, the winners were announced with one of Clemson’s teams, The Texas Triangles,  placing in second place and receiving a cash prize. The winners were as follows:

The University of Guelph                1st Place

Clemson University                        2nd Place

Southwest Minnesota State Univ.   3rd Place

One week prior to the competition, Clemson teams shipped their pre-portioned, frozen appetizer to the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio. On-site at CIA the teams competed live, one team beginning at 6:30am (Texas Triangle) and the other team beginning at 10:30am (The Three Senoritas).  It seemed stressful to the public as the teams were interviewed during the live feed of the competition with questions about what they were preparing, the techniques they used, how they came up with their product, and what their plans were after graduation.

The judging was very competitive with four tasting judges and one kitchen judge that sampled the prepared gold standard along with the reheated commercial product in a Culinology® Match Test. In this test, the competition judges compared each team's reheated and plated frozen items against their corresponding freshly prepared items on the day of the event. The competition focused on various Culinology® elements, such as flavor, aroma, texture, ingredient composition, presentation, and authenticity, among many other components.

As part of the team’s Creative Inquiry course requirement, they kept a weekly blog which describes their hurdles and successes as they prepared for the competition in San Antonio. The blog will be available for public viewing soon, so please return to the page again to check for availability.

Overall, both teams, the Texas Triangles and the Three Senoritas, are WINNERS academically, scientifically, and professionally! The Food, Nutrition, and Packaging Science Department at Clemson is very proud of their representation at the Research Chefs Association 2012 Annual Conference.

Find out more information about the Research Chefs Association here.