By Lisa Phlegar
It’s been a meaningful year so far for Gabrielle (Gabi) Edrosa, Lake Quivira Country Club’s morning prep and line cook. Recently, Gabi won second place in the ACF Student Chef of the Year Competition held in Orlando, Fl. To advance to this national level of competition, she successfully won the title Central Region Student Chef of the Year in February 2017.
The ACF Student Chef of the Year recognizes a student who possesses a high degree of professionalism, excellent culinary skills and passion for the culinary arts. Five student chefs competed for the national title; one from each region, plus one from the military.This year’s competitors were required to create four portions of a finished entree with duck. The duck had to be fabricated in the competition kitchen and portioned into four servings. Each competitor had fifteen minutes to set up their kitchen, one hour to fabricate and cook their dish, ten minutes to plate and fifteen minutes to clean up. The competitors were judged on organization, cooking skills, culinary techniques and taste, which is based on flavor, texture and presentation.
Gabi created a fabulous dish that consisted of roasted duck breast and orange-thyme sausage with peach gastrique, peach and foie gras dumpling, truffle with rainbow chard, duck leg and shitakes in cream sauce, ratatouille of summer squash, and carrot ginger puree (see photo).
Competition is not new to Gabi. Previously, she has earned Best in Dessert at the International College Culinary Competition and a gold medal in the SK-1 category at the John Joyce Competition. She also helped the Johnson County Community College (JCCC) student team win the Central Region competition and earn a gold medal.
Also adding to Gabi’s eventful year, in May 2017 she graduated from the JCCC Culinary Program with a degree in applied science. Johnson County Community College’s culinary program has a world-class reputation. Its quality was affirmed by the World Association of Chefs Societies, which has awarded the JCCC program with a Recognition of Quality Culinary Education designation, an honor shared by only 35 culinary schools around the world, including just two others in the United States. (1)
Furthermore, Gabi completed the Chef’s Apprentice program and recently became an ACF Certified Sous Chef. Motivated to continue her education, Gabi will graduate from JCCC in December 2017 with a second degree in Food and Beverage Management.
Presently, Gabi is Lake Quivira Country Club’s morning prep and line cook. Since starting her employment at the Club in July 2014 as a Chef’s Apprentice, she has successfully advanced through other facets of kitchen detail; steward, pastry, grill, sauté and fry. Chef Michael explained, as an apprentice at a country club, the student has more hands-on and in-depth learning. This is because country clubs offer more opportunities for the student to experience he different facets of the culinary operation, unlike a hotel or restaurant where they are typically limited to two functions. Chef Michael added that country club executive chefs have a tendency to invest more time and opportunities in students.
I asked Chef Michael for his thoughts pertaining to Gabi and he said, “Opportunities like this don’t happen very often. I never did it, she did! When I see a young student put her heart and soul into a dish, I know I’ve done my best mentoring of these young culinarians. This is why I enjoy what I do–helping young cooks succeed!”
What are Gabi’s goals/dreams? She plans on combining her love of food and writing (her original major was English) and will start food blogging in the near future. In the kitchen, Gabi’s next goal is to advance and become a Sous Chef. She also plans on obtaining her Executive Chef Certification within the next eight years and perhaps one day she’ll pay it forward and mentor other young chefs.
(1) Johnson County Community College Press Release 2014