Cabrillo culinary students dare to pair By Alia Wilsonsantacruzsentinel.com Posted: 05/23/2010 01:30:49 AM PDTAward Winning Pork Belly | Chef Breana Greene
Pan-seared duck, pork belly and smoked trout were just a few of the dishes created by Cabrillo College Culinary Arts Program students for the first Dare to Pair food and wine challenge Saturday.
Inspired by the food challenge series on the Food Network, members of the Surf City Vintners -- a group of Santa Cruz Mountains wineries -- approached the college with the idea of bringing something similar to the community. As a result, 24 students teamed up with the 12 wineries to prepare dishes that complemented the wines provided by the vintners. For $50, the public could sample all of the dishes prepared by the students.
"It's really important for upcoming chefs and restaurant managers to learn how to work with local wineries and to come up with things," said Eric Carter, program director. "To be able to pair local food with local wine was just natural. It's a great opportunity, and we hope to do it every year."
Students from the program's catering and advanced classes met with vineyard owners before the competition to learn about the wines. They got to choose one to work with and were given about four hours during class time to prepare a dish. Given a $150 budget, plus a $30 gift card from New Leaf, students set out to get ingredients earlier in the week. Students could chose whether to prepare the majority of their dish before the event or find ways to cook onsite. On Saturday, students brought fryers and portable stoves to the vineyards'
Catering student Michael Nguyen and his partner Alexa Bowe opted to cook everything on site. The students teamed up with Silver Mountain Vineyards.
"We believe that when food is prepared fresh things just taste better," Nguyen said.
"Plus the smell draws people to us," Bowe said.
Local chefs Brad Briske from Gabriella's, Michael Clark of Michael's on Main, Chris Levesque of El Salchichero, Charlotte Moreno from Lillian's and Charlie Parker from Cellar Door judged the competition.
Students J.P. Ditkowsky, Breanna Greene and Kris Tatroe won both the judges and crowd over and landed first place for their pork belly and smoked white beans paired with Santa Cruz Mountains and Quinta Cruz Spanish wine.
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Breana Greene | Personal Chef and Catering Santa Cruz, CA