The University of Connecticut dining services hosted its 22nd annual Culinary Olympics competition last week in Storrs.
The competition kick-started this year’s semester for the chefs and kitchen assistants who work to provide dining options throughout the year to UConn students and staff.
The competition includes two parts and is always open to the public.
“The Culinary Olympics have evolved into both a recipe contest as well as an event called Boiling Point which is our version of Chopped,” Assistant director of culinary development Robert Landolphi said.
Chefs who participated in the recipe contest worked as solo competitors in either an appetizer and entrée category or in a dessert category, a press release said. In the Boiling point competition, chefs work in groups based on dining hall or retail locations.
Participants were judged by A-list experts in the food industry field based on a premade scoring card, a press release said.
“Food experts including novelist Rand Richards Cooper, a longtime New York Times food critic and travel writer. Alex Dino, corporate executive chef for Nestle Professional and an author. The chefs from Willimantic Brewing Co. and from Metro Bis Restaurant in Simsbury and others,” a press release said.
The Culinary Olympics are an opportunity for UConn chefs and kitchen assistants to show their talent and display skills outside of UConn dining restrictions. Several years ago the competition was even aired on Food Network, Landolphi said.
In this year’s Boiling Point competition the mystery ingredients included Red Hots candy, a Pomelo, Rice Krispies, Mushrooms, Pork Belly and Conch, a press release said.
The winner of last week’s competition was Team North. The three winning chefs from North Dining Hall made Northern Floridian Conch, Wild Mushroom Tapenade and Pork Belly Bites, a press release said.
In second place came Team McMahon and in third was Team Putnam in the 2023 Boiling Point competition, a press release said.
“The winning team in the Boiling Point competition get their names put onto a plaque with all the chef’s names who ever competed and won,” while the individual top-three winners in the recipe contest receive medals, Landolphi said.
As for updates to UConn dining for students this semester, a new cafe in the Northwest Science Quad is now open.
“Nanobites cafe opened on Tuesday and will offer a lot of new items, specifically different types of desserts, that we don’t do in other cafes,” Landolphi said. “There will also be boba bubble tea. It is located in the new science building on campus.”
In addition to this, Landolphi highlighted that UConn dining services have been able to increase their staffing this semester which will benefit the dining hall experience for students.
“You will see a lot more of the bars being consistently open where students can come in, choose what they want in a dish and then have it cooked on spot for them. Chefs are excited to cook to order and interact up front with students more in the dining halls this semester,” Landolphi said.