St. Philip’s culinary students compete in turkey-cooking contest

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By Sami Parman

Rosemary garlic turkey, sweet potato casserole, corn and white bread stuffing, fresh vegetables with thyme, homemade wheat bread, a pecan-cranberry sauce and pumpkin rolls for dessert.

Sounds like a winning menu for Thanksgiving.

It was — for six students at St. Philip’s College culinary arts program.

And it was delicious. I know because I got to judge the competition at the 12th annual Turkey Tasteoff at Central Market Nov. 7.

Three teams of six students in RSTO 2405, Management of Food Production and Service, each prepared a turkey dinner with all the trimmings for a panel of judges.

Members of the media, including me, judged the competition. Others were Elizabeth Ruiz, afternoon news anchor at KTSA-AM, and Micheal Board of News 4 WOAI. Also Jakata Lewis, John Dendy and Earlean Mitchell.

We were given a moment to examine the table arrangement and product presentation each team designed.

The visual presentation of the plates was evaluated on a variety of textures consisting of “smooth,” “creamy” and “crispy.”

The edible delights we judged included turkey and dressing, vegetables, starches, bread and dessert.

The winning team, named the Julia Childs, made a rosemary garlic turkey with a pearl-onion confiture; sweet potato casserole; corn and white bread stuffing; zuchini, yellow squash and carrots with thyme; homemade wheat bread; a pecan-cranberry sauce; and pumpkin rolls for desert.

The winning team finalized recipes only a week ago,  combining several recipes.

The team consisted of culinary arts sophomores Gina Castilleja, Megan Cavazos, Phillip Jaimes, Alan L. McMahan, Efren Tavarez and Brady Peacock.

The team stuck to a traditional turkey dinner with their rosemary garlic turkey that was succulent. The pearl-onion confiture complemented the herb taste in the turkey.

The simplicity of the vegetables along with an authentic sweet potato casserole added a warm southern home feeling to the meal.

Adding pecans to a cranberry sauce was an unorthodox way of spicing up a traditional cranberry sauce. The pumpkin rolls were moist and flavorful, further adding to the southern home feeling of the meal.

“We were freaking out this morning trying to get everything ready. We learn a lot of improvisation,” Stephanie Ochoa, culinary arts sophomore and member of Team Prudhomme, said.

Central Market donated turkeys, and a $100 gift card for each team to use for their food and supplies.

Central Market has been hosting this competition for four years, general manager Kim Cates said.

Instructor Will Thornton, who teaches the class, has been cooking since he was 12 and teaching at St. Philip’s College for 23 years.

“Teaching what I teach, you get a dedication that most students do not have,” Thornton said. “Be easy on these chefs. Most of them have prepared that dish for the first time ever.”

They could have fooled me.

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