Steve Carlson Gets Bronze Medal at Regional NACUFS Conference
Steve Carlson, a renowned cook from the SUB Food Service, recently traveled to Fargo North Dakota for a regional NACUFS food conference. MSU Food Service is a member of the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS). While there, Steve represented MSU in the culinary challenge. This is where participating colleges and universities have a cook compete and get judged on a variety of cooking skills. Steve, and six other contestants represented our NACUFS region.
Steve made a five spice, sesame seed encrusted bone-in pork loin, with Szechuan sweet potato noodles, with sautéed Asian vegetables, topped with a ginger-garlic sauce, garnished with a Vietnamese Slaw and cilantro. Steve explained, “Before the competition we had 45 minutes to get set up. I had to cut down the pork loin, called Frenching. I took the most tender loin from the middle, then chopped my other ingredients. They had seven stations and started us for the completion 5 minutes apart. Once it starts, I had 60 minutes to cook, then 10 minutes to plate. I started my noodles, did some more veggie chopping, seasoned my pork, then seared it, then put it in hot holding. Next I deglazed the pan and cooked my sauce, while doing that I was sautéing my vegetables. In the meantime, there are about 100 people watching, there’s a camera person filming and 3 impartial judges taking notes on a clip-board watching the setup, technique, organization, sanitation, and all the aspects of cooking.
Once I got the sauce thickened, I placed the pork loin in the sauce to braise. The judges didn’t like this technique, they said I boiled it. I tried to time everything as I had practiced so I was done in time to plate. We were docked if we ran out of time. Then I started plating. I had to prepare 4 plates. I took a fork and swirled the noodles into a ball, put the vegetables on top of the noodles. I then cut the bone off the pork loin and cut the loin into 5 slices and leaned the pork on the noodles. Then I topped it with the slaw and then sauced the pork, and used a sprig of cilantro as a final garnish.
When everyone was done, the judges did a group critique. Then we each had an individual critique with all 3 judges together. I accumulated enough points to earn a bronze medal. The higher points are worth gold, then silver, then bronze. There were two contestants that were not awarded a medal because they did not get enough points.”
Thanks and congratulations for doing such a great job, Steve, and representing Montana State University in such a positive way!