The Orange Coast College Culinary Arts Hot Food Team earned a gold medal and a second place in the American Culinary Federation Team Championship over the summer in Orlando, Fla.
“All in all it was a very exciting and sometimes nerve-racking competition,” said Bill Barber, culinary arts professor and hot food team coach.
OCC’s Culinary Arts Program was represented by team members James Angotti, Molly Grundy, Jillian Schnaebele, Ciara Crivello and Aric Mattson.
The hot food team secured its spot in the competition by winning the state championship in January and the western regional conference in March.
Medals in the competition are awarded on a point basis with points awarded for flavor, presentation, menu composition, nutritional balance, sanitation and work habits.
Each team is given three hours and 20 minutes to prepare and cook 24 portions of a four-course, signature meal.
The competitors then get 20 minutes to present and serve each course.
For Barber, the gold medal symbolizes the team’s work habits, kitchen skills and teamwork.
“The team really came together,” Barber said. “I received many compliments from fellow chefs on how professional and clean they were working.”
For student Mattson, the toughest part of the competition was the journey getting there.
“We began training for the national competition in March,” he said. “All of our practices from September until our national competition added up to make us what we are today.”
Crivello, a culinary arts major, said members’ lives have revolved around the team and practice for the past year.
“You’re constantly thinking about your dish and ways to make it better,” she said.
“When you’re not practicing with the team you’re usually practicing individually just to make sure that it’s perfect for the next practice.”
Mattson said representing the west coast and OCC was an incredible experience.
“I am glad I was given the opportunity to do what so many of OCC’s culinary students would love to do — compete for our school and represent the West Coast for the rest of the nation,” he said. “I want to thank all of the chef instructors in the culinary program, especially Chef Barber, because without Chef Barber none of this would be possible.”