Last week I had the honor of representing my school, the Institute of Culinary Education, in the 2010 Chefs of Grey Poupon Student Culinary Competition. Earlier this year I won a preliminary contest at my school against two other students, thereby securing my spot in the main event against students from CIA, Johnson & Wales, and Kendall College. My dish was “Pan Roasted Lamb Loin with Celery Root, Apple and Dijon Puree, Mustard Greens, Grey Poupon-Glazed Baby Carrots, Pomegranate Dijon Jus and Truffle Mustard Mushroom Crisp.” Wow, that’s a mouthful! I had to use Grey Poupon in at least 50 percent of the dish, and actually I had incorporated it in all of the components.
Over the last two months, I’ve had several training sessions with my coach, Chef Instructor James Briscione, working hard to perfect my dish as well as fine-tuning my techniques to make sure that I would be able to finish my dish in the alotted hour and a half time. The only thing that we couldn’t prepare for was the mystery basket challenge- the thing that scared me the most about the competition. Being the type of person who likes to over-prepare for everything, I wondered how I would do in a situation where I would just have to wing it.
Once I plated the sandwich, I moved on to my main dish. The woman keeping track of the time announced that I had 5 minutes remaining. I tried to stay calm as I quickly plated all of the elements of my dish. First I placed a mound of the puree in the center of the plates and topped it with some of the greens. Then I sliced my lamb and carefully fanned the slices out along the side of the other elements. I arranged a few carrots on the plate then spooned on some pomegranate dijon jus. Finally, I assembled the truffle mustard mushroom crisps and carefully propped them up against the greens. I had about a minute left, so I used it to clean my plates, removing any errant drips of sauce. I was finished when my time was announced.