UMass dining takes gold again at Tastes of the World conference

A University of Massachusetts chef prepares part of their winning four-course meal at the 20th annual UMass Taste of the World Chef Conference in Amherst that concluded with the competition on June 20.
(Submitted Photo/K. Toffling)

A University of Massachusetts chef prepares part of their winning four-course meal at the 20th annual UMass Taste of the World Chef Conference in Amherst that concluded with the competition on June 20. (Submitted Photo/K. Toffling)

AMHERST — UMass Dining took gold for the fourth year in a row at the 20th annual Taste of the World Culinary Conference hosted June 15-20 by the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Chefs Anthony Jung, Robert Bankert, Taylor Whitmore and pastry chef Simon Stevenson competed against 16 other culinary teams from across the United States and Canada. The competition was sanctioned by the American Culinary Federation and featured some of the top culinarians in college and university dining. Schools such as Harvard, University of Connecticut, Penn State, University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan used local chicken and produce as well as Alaskan cod to create their dishes.

The UMass team’s winning four-course meal consisted of Alaskan crusted cod topped with herb mousse and shrimp stuffed zucchini blossoms with blood orange beurre, fennel salad dressed with a citrus vinaigrette, wild mushroom-stuffed chicken, chicken rillettes with chive potato puree, snap peas and ginger-glazed carrots. For dessert, nut-crusted tarte tatin with blueberry and pomegranate reduction topped with crème fraiche.

According to head judge Nobel Masi, “UMass chefs did a wonderful job. The plate was clean with a nice balance of flavor, well executed and they delivered exactly what they stated would be on the menu. The craftsmanship of their plates was second to none in the competition. It is worthwhile to note that the Chef Culinary Conference Team Competition is one of the rare events in the nation with eight certified judges. The chefs and the judges thoroughly enjoyed this professional event.”

Ken Toong, executive director of UMass Auxiliary Enterprises, said, “We are proud of the accomplishments of the culinary team; their work reflects highly on our program. We will put their award-winning dishes on the menu to help achieve our goal of providing food that is healthy, sustainable and delicious.”

The competition concluded the 20th annual UMass Taste of the World Chef Conference. The Chef Culinary Conference focused on accelerating foodservice concepts into the next generation — one that embraces health, sustainability and food ethics, to meet the increasing diversity of consumer preferences. Featured presenters included New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan and the Food Network’s Jet Tila, John Ash and Mia Pham. More than 300 chefs and food service directors from the U.S. and Canada attended.

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