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Culinary Students Create Taste of the Midwest

    by Emilie Jenson, Public Information Office
    Posted on 5/6/2024


Students in the Iowa Central Culinary Arts Program had the opportunity to get creative with their final public event of the year.

Six teams of students paired up to create their own versions of classic Midwest fare for the program’s “Tast of the Midwest” event on May 4 at Willow Ridge.

Featuring different stations including “Swine and Dine,” “BBQ Shack,” “Los Pollos Hermanos,” “Be Our Guest,” Bayou Bites,” and “Blossom Bakery,” students offered up their versions of sweet and savory favorites with a twist.

Noah Champion and Hayden Heatley created familiar Cajun favorites incorporated with an Iowa mainstay: corn.

“I wanted to a Mardi Gras type theme,” said Champion. “I was born in Louisiana and my dad is a Cajun chef in Wisconsin, so we are taking those flavors and bringing them into Iowa a little.”

Champion and Heatley’s “Bayou Bites” station featured jambalaya over corn bread, fried crab with corn puree, Cajun salmon with maple bourbon glaze and a mixed fruit creole salad.

“We have corn puree and cornbread,” said Heatley. “Everyone loves corn around here, so we chose a blend of Midwest with some Cajun favorites and fused them together.”

With a little trial and error, Heatley said the corn and Cajun spices complimented each other well.

“The spices with the corn and cream really balanced each other out well,” he said.

“We’ve been prepping for two weeks, trying different combinations until we got it just right,” said Champion.

The work and preparation paid off for Champion and Heatley as they received the people’s choice for best food of the day.

Cauy Hugeback and Jackson Harris selected a barbecue theme with beef sliders, smoked baby back ribs with pineapple and mustard sauce, smoked gouda macaroni and cheese and corn ribs with spicy mayonnaise.

“We have a thing for barbecue foods,” said Hugeback. “There’s so much you can do with it, but we came up with some pretty cool ideas; did some experimenting before to learn what works well together and spent the week preparing.”

Valeria Contreras was part of the team that created the desserts for the event. She prepared cinnamon roll cookies, brownie cookies with chocolate ganache, bagels with a variety of cream cheeses and a non-alcohol strawberry daiquiri to add some sweet to the day’s menu.

“In Iowa, cinnamon rolls and brownies seem to be popular desserts,” said Contreras. “And people love soft cookies, so I incorporated them together.”

Levi Holm prepared homemade breads with a selection of flavored butters and oils for their bakery themed station.

“We tried out a few different recipes for butters and went with what tasted the best,” Holm said. “It’s been fun to incorporate all these different tastes and ingredients.”

Everyone is creating their own ideas with their own recipes,” said Michael Hirst, Iowa Central Culinary Arts program coordinator. “It’s one time a year that they really get to do their own thing.”

“They’re taking every day basic foods and elevating them to the next level,” said Geoffrey Phillipson, Culinary Arts instructor. “Our students are creating something unique for Fort Dodge.”

Around 185 people attended the event, which featured the six tasting stations along with signature cocktails and sampling of Iowa wines, bourbons, and craft beers.

 

 

Culinary Students Create Taste of the Midwest

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