KSU Culinary Apprenticeship Program Concludes with Mystery Basket Challenge

KSU Culinary Apprenticeship Program Concludes with Mystery Basket Challenge

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I might be a bit biased writing this story. I'm a graduate of Kennesaw State University, located in the suburbs of Atlanta, GA.  A couple of years ago I attended a social media conference there.  As part of the conference we were treated to lunch at The Commons. This is the university's "food court" if you will. I was amazed at the diverse offerings...for lunch! These included a lamb shank and pork belly biscuit among other appetizing features. My how my college had changed. When I went there, I was happy when I was able to get bacon on my ground beef taco.

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KSU Culinary Students getting ready for the Mystery Basket competition

Doing a little research, I was very surprised to find out just how impressive their culinary program is. Fast forward to a couple months ago, when I was invited to the "Mystery Basket" competition put on by the KSU Culinary Apprenticeship program. My Alma Mater had evolved into producing talented graduates into a field a feel so passionate about? I couldn't wait to find out what was in store for me.

KSU-Culinary-prograom

Mystery Basket Competition - Open, Prep, Cook!

The Culinary Apprenticeship Certificate is a 9-month intense program designed for aspiring culinary professionals with a passion for food who desire something more than the traditional, classroom-based culinary education program. Students work hands-on in the kitchens of accomplished professional chefs who provide the tools needed to succeed in the hospitality industry.

I arrived and was escorted to the kitchen where the Mystery Basket comepetition would take place. I wrongly assumed that each student would be given the same box of food to work with, but it ended up that each was given a very different basket of food: chicken, quail, halibut,  veggies and lastly steak.

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Plating

The students quickly assessed what proteins they were given to work with and their minds racing to decided what to prepare. They were given 70 minutes to prepare a delicious plate of food to be judged. So they quickly got to work assembling their unique dish. And here's what I got to eat for dinner:

Ashley - Grilled halibut steak over saffron rice with sauteed bok choy and shishito lemon white wine sauce
Ken Sauteed chicken with brown chicken reduction sauce on grilled endive served with herb-infused goat cheese, sweet pickled beets and garnished with pomegranate and grilled tomatoes
Jerry Bison flank steak with grilled new potatoes and breaded zucchini with chili sweet sauce
Chris Pan-seared quail with port demi sauce, dandelion rocket salad and sauteed egg pasta
Connor – Walnut-encrusted chicken over wilted greens, sweet potato puree, pickled radish and shishito pepper

KSU Culinary PRogram Atlanta KSU Culinary Program
(L: Walnut encrusted Chicken, R: Quail and egg pasta)

 Not only was I impressed by the professionalism or the students' work, plating and taste, but the fact that they are able to accomplish this is just 9 short months. What's more is the sheer diversity of the students. Some were young and eager to start a career in the culinary world, while others were retired and looking for something to spark some creativity.

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