When Bon Appétit chefs from Ohio and Indiana recently converged on DePauw University in Greencastle, IN, for a Bon Appétit Midwest Chefs’ Collaborative, inspiration and good spirits abounded.
These events are opportunities to bring a region’s talented and creative minds together to discuss companywide initiatives, build relationships, and brainstorm the next big thing in the culinary industry. “We are consistently challenging complacency within our accounts and pushing the boundaries to create excitement for our guests. What better way to do this than to get all our chefs together in one room, one kitchen, and let them be creative?” District Manager Jason Rose told the group.
The first day’s agenda consisted of a State of the Region address by District Manager Dan Farrell, Jason’s outline of the culinary competition, and an overview of operational best practices from Case Western Reserve University Executive Chef Vincent Gaikens. Operations Manager Kecia Tatman, based at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, IN, presented next, offering the chefs new tools and information to increase team safety. Senior Purchasing Manager Theresa Chester then presented a live purchasing webinar from her perch hundreds of miles away in New Jersey. Oberlin College Director of Operations John Klancar reviewed culinary initiatives such as Farm Promise’s pork (raised without antibiotics or dependence on gestation crates), the Imperfectly Delicious Produce program, and Eat Local Challenge 2017, and purchasing issues such as the bottled beverage program. Ohio/Indiana Human Resources Manager Charise Reid Skyped in to talk about the results of recruiting, retention, and employee engagement surveys.
Day two kicked off with a culinary competition, themed “simplicity.” Teams of four chefs (who had never worked together before) were given free rein of the DePauw kitchen, coolers, and storage rooms. The rules themselves were simple: Create two entrées, one of them vegan; four sides; and one dessert — all using no more than five ingredients per dish. “The chefs outdid themselves in the culinary competition!” said Dan. “Many stayed up collaborating late the night before to win. The flavor profiles and creativity were outstanding!”
Wabash College Executive Chef Tim Murray, Case Western Reserve University Chef/Manager Art Ishman, Oberlin College Chef/Manager Kevin Chaney, and DePauw University Sous Chef Angeline Martin snagged first-place trophies for their menu featuring Velvet Viking lamb over cold cucumber noodles with quinoa tabbouleh and edamame, accompanied by Crosby Farms corn succotash with sweet potato latkes. For dessert: ice box ice cream with à la minute blueberry sauce. Clients from DePauw University and Crossroads Café (Carmel, IN) joined Dan and Regional Vice President Randy De Mers in judging.
“DePauw University was honored to host the Bon Appétit culinary competition at our new state-of-the-art Hoover Dining Hall,” said DePauw Director of Community Initiatives & Auxiliary Services Bruce Clute, echoing the positive sentiments of the Bon Appétit team. “The chef creations were culinary masterpieces conceived from fresh ideas and inspiring techniques.”
The chefs themselves really appreciated the chance to get together. “It was great to meet other chefs in the region and go over important information,” shared Tim. “It helped me forge new relationships. Here in rural Indiana, sometimes it feels as though you are an island. Now I feel as though I have colleagues I can bounce ideas off of, and see what works best at other locations.”
The attendees look forward to repeating the collaborative and the competition annually in their ongoing commitment to push themselves creatively and culinarily.
Submitted by Jason Rose, District Manager