MDining Sous Chef Brian Barker recently earned a silver medal in the National Association of College and University Food Service (NACUFS)’s 2018 Culinary Challenge. The live competition recognizes outstanding organization, cooking skills, culinary technique, taste and style in collegiate dining chefs.
Chef Barker won NACUFS’ regional culinary competition in March to move on to a square off with competing chefs at the national conference. The contest took place before an audience of college and university foodservice professionals, industry experts, and ACF judges on July 11 in Providence, Rhode Island. Competitors had to prepare a creative entree, featuring the mandatory combination of native-grown ingredients of Littleneck clams, whole squid, and oysters to create an appetizing and inviting plate.
Chef Barker, a 25-year veteran chef, attended Schoolcraft College for Culinary Arts. An MDining Sous Chef for the past four years, chef Barker’s entree was titled “Rhode Island Shores Seafood Trio, Pho Style.” It consisted of grilled squid, steamed Littleneck clams and fried oysters with a rice noodle trio, baby bok choy, julienne carrots, brunoise Fresno chile, seafood pho broth, and crispy fried shallots.
“Beyond the required ingredients, we were free to do anything we wanted. The dish needed to be nutritionally balanced with starch and vegetable accompaniments as well as showcasing two classical knife cuts,” Barker explains. “I chose to make the rice noodles, to show another skill, as well as producing a delicious halibut stock as the base for the pho broth.”
For the competition, chefs were allowed one hour to cook and 10 minutes to prepare four identical plates for the judges to evaluate and critique.
“Added to this tight production window is the restriction that the heat source is limited to two induction burners working off of two banquet tables,” Barker says.
Chef Barker earned his Certified Executive Chef designation in 2015 from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and now works at instructing future chefs through MDining’s own ACF accredited classes.