Friday, January 23rd, 2015
Can you hear that? That sound of hundreds of knives chopping? Hundreds of eggs cracking? Yes—it’s C-CAP students across the country preparing for Preliminary Competition!
From now to the end of May, C-CAPPERS across the nation will be honing their skills, practicing their recipes, and preparing to bring their best on competition day. To give you an overview of the process, we are revisiting our “Competition Essentials” post from last year. And as an added bonus, we’ve got new competition advice from alums across the country!
In essence, what is the C-CAP Preliminary Competition for Scholarships? How will it differ from the Final Competition?
Students submit a written application comprised of an essay, letters of recommendation, and college research. This earns them the chance to compete in the preliminary round of our Competition for Scholarships. Competitors prepare from memory two French Rolled Omelets and two Standing Tomato Cucumber and Bell Pepper Salads — one for presentation and one for tasting. They have one hour to complete their dishes and clean their workstation.
The format is very similar in Final Competition, but the dishes get more complex.
How have the students been preparing?
It starts with their dedicated teachers. Throughout the year, students learn all the necessary skills: knife cuts, sanitation, organization, techniques and professional behavior. Many also participate in C-CAP Job Shadow opportunities or volunteer through C-CAP at culinary events. They take the opportunity to practice the “competition recipes” both in school and at home —sometimes for years!
Walk us through the Preliminary Competition day.
Students arrive the morning of competition, receive their numbers and put on their uniforms. Students bring their own pans and utensils and are given ten minutes to set up their stations. From the time the clock starts, students have one-hour to complete their dishes while the judges walk around observing.
What are the judges looking for?
The purpose of the preliminary competition is to observe a student’s potential for success in the industry and to determine if they have mastered the basic skills needed to start working in a professional kitchen. The judges will be considering a wide range of criteria: knife skills, proper use of kitchen tools, speed, confidence, professionalism, organization, sanitation, presentation and, of course, taste!
What happens after?
It’s pretty straightforward. The judges take meticulous notes during the competition: not only on kitchen skills, but also on the students’ soft skills and professionalism. Finalists are notified shortly after competition day.
What’s happening behind the scenes to help support competitors during this whole competition process?
It’s much more than the day itself! Our C-CAP locations will kick off the process with an Information Session in the fall that gives students and their parents an in-depth look at the competition process. Locations will also provide college advising and support, from college research help to financial aid workshops. Our competitors can also take part in Practice Sessions where kitchens are open for their use outside of school hours.
Rebeca Rios, you were both a C-CAP New York competitor/scholarship recipient and have helped out at numerous competitions since. Do you have any advice you can share with competitors preparing for the big day?
Rebeca Rios: When I was competing, I took a corner of the kitchen and I made my routine perfect: everything within the time limit since I knew how many steps to the stove or oven. Never did it cross my mind that not every kitchen is built the same. My best advice is to always practice in a different part of the kitchen, with different amounts of space for prep, with a different range top or oven, to see how that might play into your timeline.
This week, we asked our alums on Facebook to share advice with C-CAP students headed into competition season. Here’s what they said!
Oliver Malcolm, C-CAP Chicago alum and scholarship recipient:
Play like a champion. Most of you have worked three hard years for this moment and nothing should stand in your way. Remember that everything counts here, so academic efforts as well as knife skills will come into play. Each and every school is great but it takes someone with ambition and a willingness to learn to get the best out of any culinary school. Pressure will be weighing you down so try to keep your mind focused on what you are doing in the kitchen. Time trials will help your speed in this competition. For fun, learn to do your work to music if you want, but speed and performance is key here. Good luck to all of you. Alumni across the US and the world over will be rooting for you and looking forward to your success.
Larry F. Purvis, C-CAP New York alum and scholarship recipient:
You have your knowledge and you have practiced hard and often. So, in that last moment of nervousness, stop, take a breath, put knife in hand and realize your goal!
Rafael Perezchica, C-CAP Los Angeles alum and scholarship recipient:
Taste everything, make a prep list, have your time line, and don’t forget to breathe!!!!! Best of luck to all!!!!!
Cristina Martinez, C-CAP Arizona alum and scholarship recipient:
Have a positive mind! Even when things are going super wrong, use that as motivation to make everything else better!! Believe in yourselves! Yes, worry about your timing and seasoning but also have tons of fun and enjoy it! Best of luck!
Do you have advice to give? Do you have questions for other alums about how you can prepare? Comment on our Facebook post to connect with your fellow C-CAPPERS. Use the hashtags #ccapalums, #ccapiscooking #upstandingsalads or #eggceptionalomelets to give or get advice!
We promise to update you over the coming months on dates, judges, and scholarships awarded! Now back to your kitchens and —
Saturday, January 17th, 2015
It’s that time of year again when anyone who’s anyone (or really just anyone) gazes into their crystal ball and predicts the food and restaurant trends for the coming year. So to join in the soothsaying fun, we made for you a list. In fact, not just a list—but a List Of Lists. Here are just a few of our favorite predictions for where food is headed in 2015. What are your predictions for the coming year?
- Whether you think kale is kale-tastic or kale-trocious, it is apparently time for it to cede its moment in the spotlight and make way for…cauliflower. Because this year, cauliflower is the new kale. [Read here.]
- …Unless you believe radishes are. In related news: sour is the new sweet, yogurt is the new way to get your veggies, and fancy cookies are the new EVERYTHING. [Read here.]
- We’ve always had an investment in the people making the food, as well as the food itself. This year, it’s a trend! [Read here.]
- Have you started thinking about where your food is coming from, who has access to it, and how growing it affects the environment? Well, you’re going to love it when these conversations hit big in 2015. [Read here.]
- 33 Clever People says Clever Things about what they’d like to see in 2015. [Cleverness guaranteed to rub off on readers.] [Read here.]
- 20 crowd-sourced chef picks on what 2015 will bring. (Self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps?) [Read here.]
- “What do you mean you left the dinner tickets at home?” (And root veggies and Filipino cuisine step into the spotlight.) [Read here.]
- Fat+Local+Insects+Harissa+Millet +Peas=What You Will Eat in 2015. Mmmmm. [Read here.]
Do you have food trend predictions for 2015? Share your ideas with us on Facebook.
And stay tuned!
Friday, January 9th, 2015
Happy New Year, C-CAP friend!
Whether you’re a chef, teacher, alum, donor, industry professional, foodie, or admirer from afar, we’re grateful for your interest and investment in C-CAP and our very talented students, past and present.
At this time of year, as we bid goodbye to 2014 and welcome the year ahead, we find great joy in taking stock and celebrating the great achievements of our alumni. This year, we were thrilled to have Forbes join us in this worthwhile pursuit!
May we present to you, Executive Chef and C-CAP Alum Kelvin Fernandez—otherwise known as one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in 2015! We’re so proud of you, Kelvin!
Kelvin Fernandez, Executive Chef, La Marina
Kelvin made a splash on the New York culinary scene when he became an Executive Chef at the tender age of 22. Having competed on Chopped and led multiple kitchens at the age of 29, Kelvin says it’s the same thing that made him a success that keeps him a success—mentorship. Kelvin credits his rise to the incredible training and mentorship he received early in his career from C-CAP and from George Masraff, Marcus Samuelsson, Alfred Portale, and George Lang. He credits his continued success to the mentorship he provides as a leader, making sure everyone in his kitchen feels like a vital part of the team. Kelvin’s kitchens not only turn out superlative and inventive cuisine, they produce highly seasoned and confident young cooks who follow both him and his example.
Did you know? This is the second year running that a C-CAP alum has been featured in Forbes 30 Under 30! Check out Master Sommelier and C-CAP Alum Carlton McCoy’s feature from 2014.
And since we only resolved not to do ALL of our own bragging, here are a few more of C-CAP’s uber-talented food professionals—all under 30!
We think 2015 is setting up to be a darn good year.
C-CAP’s “Leaders Under 30” Round Up
Cesar Gutierrez, Executive Chef, Lexington Brass
Just two years ago, Cesar Gutierrez was a line cook at the popular Midtown-East eatery Lexington Brass. Now, at the tender age of 24, he has worked his way up the restaurant ranks to become Executive Chef. And yet, this trajectory is hardly surprising for this extraordinary young man. On the streets at age 12, he fell into gang life, sold drugs, and ended up in prison. When Cesar returned to high school, he enrolled in C-CAP and was quick to excel, winning a full-tuition scholarship to The French Culinary Institute, and later, the Daniel Boulud/C-CAP Scholarship to the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyon, France where he spent five weeks learning authentic French cuisine. Cesar has worked at many of New York’s finest restaurants including Daniel, Picholine, Lyon Bouchon Modern, BLT Prime, and Feast & Fetes Catering, and has staged at highly ranked restaurants across France and Brazil. In his new role as Executive Chef, Cesar is mentoring the next generation of C-CAP interns and alumni.
Mame Sow, Executive Pastry Chef, Harlem Jazz Enterprises—The Cecil and Minton’s
Fusing her Senegalese background with classical French pastry education, C-CAP alumna Mame Sow brought her unique background and skills to an award-winning new Harlem restaurant group that celebrates the foods of the African diaspora, including fusion cuisine (The Cecil) and low-country traditions (Minton’s)—along the way, honing her skills at the likes of Fauchon, Bouchon Bakery, Aquavit, Riingo and Merkato 55, David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, Spot Dessert Bar, and Co-op Food and Drink.
Veronica Rivera, Executive Pastry Chef, Marc Forgione
Not only is this 23-year-old Executive Pastry Chef and C-CAP alumna the first in her family to attend college, she is already focused on giving back. When asked what success looks like to her, Veronica doesn’t mention her meteoric rise to the top working at Craftsteak, Locanda Verde and American Cut, or her culinary collaborations with master chef Marc Forgione (who praises her hard work, creativity, and passion), she replies “Success to me is when you start to influence and change the lives of others; when you become a mentor and a reason for someone else’s success. There’s no better feeling than that.”
Claire Crenshaw, Executive Pastry Chef, Moto
Rapidly promoted in every pastry team she’s hired to, Claire believes in breaking boundaries and breaking the mold: whether trading the warmth of her native Arizona in a for the chance to work at Chicago’s Quince and then rise in the ranks at TRU, or experimenting with new flavors and creations at Michelin-starred Moto, where she is now Executive Pastry Chef. Recently seen representing the brightest women stars of the culinary world at James Beard Foundation dinners or competing to benefit local charities, Claire is an example to generations of C-CAP students.
Anthony Greco, Pastry Chef, Lukshon
C-CAP alumnus Anthony Greco went from living in Los Angeles’s gangland capital, shuffling between divorced parents, to working in a 4-star Hotel, being mentored by Guittard’s own Executive Pastry Chef. Now he is working under Sang Yoon as the Pastry Chef of Lukshon, one of LA’s hottest restaurants, all the while helping to fundraise for culinary arts education for at-risk teens like his former self.
Jelani Port, Personal Chef to Larry Fitzgerald, NFL player
For the past four years, this 23 year-old C-CAP alumnus has been Personal Chef to football player Larry Fitzgerald, who says “Just knowing where he came from and how hard he’s worked to overcome some adversity in his life is astonishing—and it wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for programs like C-CAP.” Not only does Jelani take seriously the health and well being of one of Arizona’s top athletes, he’s equally committed to bringing that knowledge and excitement into the schools as a chef participant in Chefs Move to Schools, and Fuel Up to Play 60., He also always has time to give back to the program that gave him his start, volunteering as a judge and mentor for C-CAP competition practice. Having risen to the top of his field, Jelani never misses an opportunity to educate the next generation about nutrition and healthy living!
Saturday, December 20th, 2014
It’s the holiday season and C-CAP students, teachers and alums across the country are spreading holiday cheer in all sorts of ways!
Extra Special Holiday Shopping
In Arizona last week, Women of Scottsdale in partnership with Saks Fifth Avenue raised a whopping $500 for C-CAP in just two days, when 10% of evening shopping was designated to benefit C-CAP. The special shopping event included champagne, hors d’oeuvres, a DJ, and the chance for shoppers to learn about C-CAP through promotional materials and conversations with our students. JoAnn Holland, president of Women of Scottsdale and a longtime C-CAP supporter stated, “Once people know about C-CAP, they love to give to this amazing cause.”
Working for the Greater Good
In Chicago, students are filled with the holiday spirit! It started with Thanksgiving when they prepared side dishes and desserts for the Living Room Café’s community Thanksgiving Dinner, served to 500 guests who are homeless or may struggle to get a hot meal. In December, they learned to make delicious holiday fare in two holiday baking and pastry classes and collected toys for the Toys for Tots drive.
Showing Our Appreciation
In Los Angeles, C-CAP took time out to celebrate our most crucial partners—our teachers! On December 9th, teachers gathered at DOMA restaurant in Beverly Hills for a spectacular four-course meal prepared by Executive Chef and C-CAP alum Dustin J. Trani. It was a time of reflection on the successes of the year past, expressing gratitude for the wonderful work accomplished, and looking forward to a stellar year ahead—all accompanied by spectacular food!
Celebrating the Achievements of Others
Prince George’s County culinary students know that good food makes any celebration great. So at Gwynn Park High School, they are always on hand to celebrate the achievements of their fellow students—whether it’s preparing and serving meals for the school’s athletic and recognition banquets, or this holiday season, hosting an Ice Cream Social for Honor Roll Students!
In New York this holiday season, C-CAP alums have been expressing their gratitude for C-CAP over the years in the best way they know how—with food! These amazing alums and current Monroe students came bearing gorgeous homemade chocolates to help us celebrate the holidays!
And that’s just a fraction of what’s going on in the world of C-CAP from month to month! To keep up on more stories, join the conversation on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and follow the hashtag #ccapiscooking.
Happy Holidays! And stay tuned!
Saturday, December 13th, 2014
Everyday our C-CAP alums are out there doing awesome things and making us proud. But it is not everyday that they get recognized in the national media for it!
This month, we present for your reading pleasure two articles about C-CAP alum Cesar Gutierrez, Executive Chef of Lexington Brass and mentor to many other alums.
Check out Cesar’s profile in Total Food Service here.
Check out this feature story on Cesar and C-CAP in Opportunity Lives.
We’re so proud of Cesar and all our hardworking, high-achieving alums out there. Keep believing in yourselves and what you create. We certainly do!
Visit our Facebook page for links to upcoming features on more alums.
And stay tuned!
Friday, December 5th, 2014
Remember how we told you that C-CAP’s National College Advisor and Alumni Coordinator Meghan Seradsky was honored with a Legacy Award from Les Dames d’Escoffier? This past August, Meghan spent a week in and around Atlanta, Georgia learning about farms, farmers, farm-to-table, and how to answer the question “Where does good food come from?” Here’s a sneak peek from an article she wrote about her experience:
“That’s not what it’s about,” Mary squarely responds in a tone that suggests perhaps I am a little thick. She was responding to my inquiry about how long it took to perfect her formula for goat cheese.
That’s not what it’s about? For someone like me, a cook in a previous life, Mary’s response is befuddling. What does she mean the formula isn’t important? This is cheese, isn’t it?
I ponder her response as Mary, the beloved Decimal Place farmer, goat-herder and artisanal cheesemaker, opens the gate for her two mammoth-sized dogs to lead the herd to pasture. Fifty snow-colored goats happily follow, ‘behh-ing’ in anticipation.
We continue our tour through Mary’s 40-acre farm, much of it woods, as she points out poison ivy, privet and honeysuckle that the goats will shortly feast on. “You see,” she continues. “Anyone can make cheese. There are plenty of recipes out there, you just pick one and follow it.” She ducks under a cobweb and deftly picks her way through the trees, shrubs and branches. “But,” she adds, “it has to start with the milk. Milk starts with the goats and even that begins with the land, really.”
For someone at the tail-end of a six-day trip shadowing five farmers across greater Atlanta, I should have known. Of course it’s about the land.
To learn more about Meghan’s experience, stay tuned for her full account featured in an upcoming issue of Les Dames d’Escoffier International’s Quarterly magazine!
Wednesday, November 26th, 2014
In the spirit of Thanksgiving (and in case you’re panicking that you don’t have a pie to bring to dinner), the alumni association wants to share with you one of their award-winning pie recipes. Because we are thankful for YOU!
Prepare yourself for the deliciousness of Banana Mascarpone Crème Pie with Curry Pineapple Compote by C-CAP alum Stefen Bullen!
And if you make it, don’t forget to share your beautiful pictures with us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook!
Banana-Mascarpone Crème Pie with Curry Pineapple Compote
Pineapple Curry Sauce
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp curry powder (preferably Madras)
20 oz can of crushed pineapple
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
20 oz can of water
¼ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of white sugar
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla
2 large egg yolks
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 cup Hecker’s flour
2 cups oats
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter
½ stick melted butter
32 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz mascarpone cheese, softened
2 tbsp ground cinnamon (1 tbsp separate)
4 oz pasteurized egg
2 tbsp condensed milk (not evaporated)
2 packets unflavored gelatin
½ cup Irish liquer
3 tbsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla
2 tbsp butter
1 lb bananas
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp whiskey
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey vanilla
In a medium saucepan on medium-high heat, melt butter, add curry, and brown approximately 2 minutes. Carefully introduce in crushed pineapple (reserve juice) and stir. Add chili, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg, then reduce heat to medium-low. Pour in reserved juice, vanilla, water, sugars, and stir. Allow to cook and reduce stirring occasionally so the sugars do not burn. Once mixture has become a thick sauce, remove from heat allowing to cool.
In the mixing bowl, combine egg yolk and sugar. Cream together mixture and slowly add oats, flour, baking powder, and salt. Lastly, add cubed butter and allow the mixture to form dough. Do not overwork. Press onto prepared baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at 350F.
Once it is cool, break into crumbs that resemble sand. Add melted butter and press into pie pan to form crust. Heat in oven for 5 minutes and allow to cool completely and set aside.
In a skillet, melt butter and add sliced bananas. Sprinkle with sugar and toss. Remove from heat source, add whiskey, toss and return to heat. Allow alcohol to be cooked out. Allow to cool, add vanilla and mash with potato masher. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine first five ingredients. In a separate bowl, heat the Irish liqueur enough to dissolve gelatin in, but do not boil. Set food processor to blend and pour Irish Cream solution in, allow to become incorporated well. Blend until smooth.
Pour filling into prepared pie shell, add dollops of banana mixture randomly atop of filling and swirl. Place in refrigerator and allow to cool overnight (minimum 4 hours) until firm.
Evenly spread pineapple sauce on top layer and return to refrigerator until ready to serve.
And most importantly…enjoy!
Saturday, November 15th, 2014
We promised you pies. And we delivered. Apple pie. Vegan Pear Frangipane Tart. Pecan Delight. Pumpkin Pie. Banana Mascarpone Cream with a Curry Pineapple Compote. Toffee Sea Salt Pecan Chocolate Chip. Georgia Peach with Pecan Streusel. Apple Pie with Marble Crumb Topping. Gluten-free Almond Crème Pie.
We think we can safely say that pie night was a pie-normous success. But don’t take our word for it—check ’em out!
Many thanks to our wonderful alumni board for making the evening such a success, and to all of our competitors for making such delicious pies!
Did you miss this wonderful alumni event?
You’re in luck.
If you are a C-CAP alum, join us from 6-8 p.m. on December 1st for the C-CAP Alumni Holiday Dinner Party at 300 Jay Street in Brooklyn for a three-course Indian feast, games, raffles, prizes—and a photo booth. What more could a person want?
To attend, RSVP to Meghan Seradsky, C-CAP’s National College and Advisor and Alumni Coordinator, at email@example.com.
Saturday, November 8th, 2014
Here at C-CAP, we believe in practice. And pies. And practice making pies. And our alumni. And Thanksgiving! Were you planning to make pies for Thanksgiving? Would you like to practice first? Are you a C-CAP alum? Would you like to share your practice pie with fellow alumni in a warm and convivial atmosphere while sampling other alumni’s practice pies? Did we mention you can win a prize for said pies?
This Wednesday evening, November 12th, the Alumni Association is holding its Fall Meeting and First Annual Pie Contest at the C-CAP office, 505 8th Avenue, Suite #1400, New York City, where from 6:30-9:00 talented C-CAP alums will network, partake in lively discussion about “Defining Success,” and judge [read: eat lots of] pie! If you’re an alum, check out the details below and RSVP to Meghan Seradsky, National College Advisor and Alumni Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. For all other C-CAP friends, be sure to follow our live posting of all ensuing deliciousness on our Instagram account, @ccapinc.
So get out your pie tins, preheat your ovens and prepare to whip, beat, pulverize [insert your own ambiguously aggressive baking verb here] the competition (or watch from the safety of the social media sidelines). The pie’s the limit!
Monday, November 3rd, 2014
Just when you think things can’t get more interesting, we have a week like this one! Have you been waiting to support C-CAP in its 25th year of transforming lives through culinary arts? Well, this week we have four amazing chances for you to do just that!
C-CAP DC Alum and Master Sommelier Carlton McCoy Runs the NYC Marathon for C-CAP
Because passing the Master Sommeliers exam (“hardest test in the world”) wasn’t quite hard enough, alum Carlton McCoy is running the NYC Marathon for C-CAP this Sunday, November 2nd! Show your support by contributing to his fundraising page, or making a poster and joining us to cheer him on! We couldn’t be prouder of this determined alum.
Dominique Ansel Launches His New Cookbook, The Secret Recipes, and Chooses C-CAP to Benefit from Proceeds
Have you been as obsessed with the cronut as the rest of us? Then you won’t hesitate to purchase this stunning new cookbook from Dominique Ansel in which he reveals his secret recipes—including how to make your own cronut at home! Purchase a personalized copy and $10 of the proceeds goes directly to C-CAP. Isn’t that a sweet way to contribute?
C-CAP Philly Fires Up the Culinary Scene with Their Annual IGNITE Benefit
If you’ve been following us on Facebook or our blog, you’ll know that our Philadelphia program is on fire! Support this wonderful program by buying a ticket to IGNITE: Firing Up Tomorrow’s Chefs this Monday night, November 3rd at The Dorrance H. Hamilton Enterprise Center for Culinary Arts at 6pm. Guests will enjoy a walk-around tasting of culinary creations from some of Philadelphia’s best chefs, assisted by C-CAP students, while sipping superb wines and craft beer. With food from 12th Street Catering, Alla Spina, Blackfish, Brûlée Catering, Classic Cake, Ela, Evergreen Cheese, The Night Kitchen, Restaurant Cerise, and Sbraga, it’ll be the hottest event in town, and your support of C-CAP is guaranteed to make you feel warm and fuzzy.
Feast Under the Harvest Moon with C-CAP Arizona…and Mayor Stanton of Phoenix!
What’s that? You’ve never dined al fresco under the Harvest Moon with the mayor of Phoenix? Well, we recommend that you grab this once in a lifetime opportunity!
Buy your tickets today for this unique dining experience under a full moon in central Phoenix this Thursday, November 6th. Located in the gardens of the PHX Renews property, guests will enjoy a cocktail hour followed by a three-course dinner of local, seasonal cuisine prepared by some of Arizona’s up and coming chefs and C-CAP alumni with Arizona wine pairings. What a night to remember!
No matter which way you choose to support C-CAP this week, we are grateful to have you participate. Have an exciting week, and—