20th Culinary Olympics Showcases Skills of Dining Services Chefs

Chefs workign in a culinary competition
Chefs from McMahon Dining Hall (L-R) Charlie String, Scott Chapman and Susan Chang, work on their creations during the 2019 Boiling Point Competition, part of the Culinary Olympics, at Rome Ballroom. (Photo by Kevin Ostrowski/Dining Services)

UConn’s Department of Dining Services will hold its 20th Culinary Olympics, which showcases the skills and expertise of its staff of professional chefs, on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the Rome Ballroom on South Campus from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. The schedule of activities is:

8:30 a.m.: Recipe Contest for appetizers, entrees or desserts that will be judged by professional chefs and food writers.

9:30 a.m.: Chef Demonstration with Neil Doherty, CEC, corporate executive chef at Sysco Foods.

10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.: Recipe Contest judging by Will Deason, chef at Willimantic Brewing Company/Main Street Café; Carl Stafford, professor of hospitality management at Manchester Community College; Ruth Hartunian-Alumbaugh, chair of the Willimantic Chocolate Festival and food writer for the Willimantic Chronicle; and Gary Moquin, culinary arts instruction at Windham Technical High School in Willimantic.

10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.: UConn Bakery Demos and Displays: Learn the art of decorating from the professional pastry chefs and bakers in Dining Services. There also will be 20 cakes on display to commemorate the 20th year of the Culinary Olympics.

12:30 to 4:45 p.m.: Boiling Point Competition, where 12 teams of three chefs from different campus dining facilities each get a mystery box of ingredients and have 75 minutes to prepare three different Tapas – small food or appetizers on a single plate. This year’s judges include Christopher Prosperi, chef-owner of Metro Bis Restaurant in Simsbury; Rand Richards Cooper, food and travel writer and food critic with The New York Times; and Kristen Fritz and Jeannette Punsoni Dardenne of Eat In Connecticut, a strategic marketing firm specializing in the restaurant industry and community events.

Last year UConn 360 visited the Rome Ballroom on south campus during the competition and recorded the event by speaking with chefs competing in Boiling Point, the judges for the event and Rob Landolphi, assistant director for culinary development in Dining Services, who spoke about the history of the Culinary Olympics.