Thomas Cuisine and Lifespace Communities Host Iowa Culinary Institute Competition
Thomas Cuisine serves the Continued Care Retirement Community at the Deerfield Lifespace Communities, in Des Moines, Iowa. When asked to put together an interesting event, Food Service Director Matt Monaco and Executive Chef Aaron Vetter decided to host a culinary competition featuring six student contestants from the Iowa Culinary Institute. These students battled it out in a Small Plates Showdown for a grand prize of $500.00 in front of a group of 60 residents. Each student was tasked with creating an original hors d’oeuvres recipe utilizing whole grains. The scores were evaluated on meeting the requirements of using whole grains, presenting an interesting flavor profile, providing a description of health benefits, and plate presentation. Thomas Cuisine Director of Marketing, Kriste Sumpter developed scorecards and Whole Grains promotional materials to support this fun event. We also had ice carving demonstrations, and everyone walked away with a copy of the Blue Zones Cookbook, a #1 Best Seller in Longevity on Amazon. The winner of the popular vote was Sarah Macbeth – her dish was Tuna Tartare and the winner of the panel vote was Jordan Foster – his dish was Farro Wassubi.
Sarah won the popular vote with guest scorecards ranking each dish on a scale of 1-5 on the criteria: utilization of whole grains, appearance, taste, and description of health benefits.
Jordan won the panel vote by preparing his dish for four panel judges (culinary committee chair, community team member guest, culinary committee member, and Executive Chef Aaron Vetter). Each contestant described the preparation method, inspiration for the dish, and the health benefits of whole grains used. Jordan received the highest cumulative score from the judging panel of all six contestants.