Kendall Student Shines at International French Young Chef Competition

A culinary student at Kendall College at National Louis University recently kept her cool despite the intense pressure of designing a menu, cooking and serving in a culinary competition sponsored by France’s oldest food and wine society, the Chaine des Rotisseurs.

The Chaine was founded in 1248 as King Louis IX’s guild for goose roasters and lives on as a modern global association dedicated to cooking, chefs and the restaurant, hospitality and beverage industries.

Pierre-Andre Checchi, a chef-instructor at Kendall College of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management at National Louis University, has an enviable track record in coaching Kendall students in participating in the highly intense contest. In the past, four of his students have won the  Midwest regional competition, though none have yet conquered the national or international competition.

Checchi and this year’s student contestant, Alyssa Sato, from the Chaine’s Chicago chapter, attended the regional competition of the Chaine’s Young Chefs culinary contest in Indianapolis recently. Sato had to face off against chefs from Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kansas, Indiana, Michigan and Iowa, who must be younger than 27 to participate.

Competitors have to produce a 3-course meal for four people in 4.20 hours. That breaks down to 30 minutes to design and write their menus, 3.5 hours to cook them and 20 minutes to serve them.

Each contestant receives a mystery box of ingredients and is required to use at least 50 percent of these ingredients. They are judged on their kitchen skills as well as taste, originality and presentation.

Here’s what was in the mystery box for Sato and the others: New York strip loin from a local farm, rainbow trout, parsnips, granny smith apple, smoked pork jowl and smoked hickory syrup.

Exercising her knowledge and skills, here is what Sato created.

First course

Crudo of trout with sea salt and lemon with a baby bok choy salad, fried lotus root and pickled daikon radish.

Second course

NY strip loin involtini with Japanese eggplant, parsnip puree and smoked jowl lardons, grilled loin and red wine tarragon sauce.

Third course

Smoked hickory syrup pannacotta with fresh berry and green apple salpicon, minted meringue.

After Sato finished the marathon cooking session, she finished in second place out of the group and received a bronze medal. The gold medal is reserved for the Young Chef who wins the national competition in May.

“For a first-time professional competition. Alyssa did a fantastic job and her skills were spectacular under pressure,” Checchi said. Congratulations!

Learn more about Kendall College at National Louis University’s Culinary Arts program