Ashland University Chef a Finalist in Food Contest

4/21/11 ASHLAND, OH -- Kevin T. Burke, executive sous chef at Ashland University, is a finalist in the Gordon Food Service's "The Main Ingredient" recipe contest and also has entered a recipe in the national "Recipe Showdown" sponsored by Rotel.

Burke, a chef in the Student Dining area at Ashland University, calls his GFS entry "pesto sundried tomato cornbread." The pesto's ingredients include sundried tomatoes, asiago cheese, ricotta cheese, and shallots.

Fred Geib, director of Student Dining at the University, had challenged his five chefs to enter "The Main Ingredient" contest this February. For the contest, they had to choose to enter either a Primo Gusto Pesto or a Gran Sazon Chorizo. Burke's pesto was chosen for the final round.

"I think the chefs we have working here are very talented and creative. We do things here that are pretty over the top. So I think they have a pretty good chance," Geib said.

Burke received a $250 credit toward Student Dining's Gordon Food Service account. If Burke's recipe receives the most votes at the GFS Spring Food, Tabletops, and Supplies Show later this month he will earn an additional $500 credit toward Student Dining's account.

"If we can branch out and occasionally win some of these recipe contests then that's great for everyone," Geib said.

Just as professors enter contests and are recognized for their works, Burke said the same happens in non-academic departments on campus, including Student Dining.

Burke said winning the contest is "getting kudos for what you do and getting recognized by your peers."

Burke said the chefs also enter the contests to expose Student Dining's as a forte at AU. This can be through industry, commercial, and educational periodicals, as well as peer recognition, Burke said.

"Periodically we enter these contests to gain experience and ideas. Whenever we can get the AU name out there in a positive light it is a good thing for the university," Burke said.

For the Rotel competition, Burke created Chorizo Sloppy Joes made using the Rotel tomato and green chilies product, which was required of all entries. According to the entry form published by Rotel, the entries, which could be anything from a snack or appetizer to a main course dish, will be judged by their "applicability in the marketplace, taste, ease of preparation, and appeal or creativity."

Burke is anticipating the results of the contest sometime in May.

In addition to entering contests, the AU chefs also attend conferences, such as those held by the National Association of College and University Foodservices, Burke said.  Here, the chefs find new ways to satisfy the stomachs of the students at AU.

"It is very important to attend the shows because the university gets discounts on products and there are information and training sessions at both conferences and food shows. We get to talk to brokers and manufacturers. There are always new ideas presented with new products," Burke said.

While Student Dining hopes that Burke will bring home a victory at the GFS Spring Food Show, the AU students may enjoy any other ideas for tasteful concoctions he brings back with him, as well.

Ashland University (<>) is a mid-sized, private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Ashland University values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students.