600! Milestone achievement for Monroe Culinary at the Greater New York Culinary Challenge

January 11, 2016

Monroe Senior Frankie Gil, C-cap student from Port Richmond, earned a gold medal for his trio of Cornish hen, earning the 600th American Culinary Federation (ACF) medal for the Monroe College culinary arts program. Monroe Culinary earned 19 medals on the day bringing the count to 608. It was a banner day for Monroe’s partner program, Careers through Culinary Arts Programs (C-Cap) as 12 C-cap alumni earned medals, including 8 Food and Finance HS alumni: Vanessa Munoz, Alissa Merino, Georgia Demakakos, Victoria Helwig, and Michael Fersner all earning silver medals. Senior Nemesis Puma earned her first professional medal, scoring a silver medal for a pan-seared striped bass garnished with baclaitos. Senior Sarah DeJesus, also a Food and Finance alumna, earned a bronze medal. Chicago C-cap alumnus Nyree Smith, scored a gold medal and Port Richmond HS alumna Emily Caraballo earned a silver medal.

The New York State Retail Bakers Association sponsored a scholarship competition, which ran concurrent with the ACF competition. Sabrina Aguilar Torres, a C-Cap alumnus from Arizona, took first place with a gold medal for her chocolate cake with caramelized bananas. She earned a $1500 scholarship from the organization. Second place was Pro-start student Sydney Rubinos, an alumna of Passaic County Technical Institute, another of Monroe’s great partners, who earned a silver medal for her Dulce de leche cake, just outpointing third place winner, Michael Fersner. Luis Mendez, another Food and Finance HS alumnus, and Najia Barclay rounded out the freshman competition with Bronze medals. “It is so wonderful to see the way these kids go about their business…so professional, so focused, a real tribute to their coaching and to their program,” said ACF judge Michael Beriau CEC AAC, who was among the judges that presided over the competition, which included Chef George O’Palenick CEC CCE AAC, retired Johnson and Wales faculty member and ACF Northeast Vice President. Freshmen William Toth, Steven Arias and Victor Gonzalez earned their first ACF medals, all silver. Dover Plains, NY HS alumna Christina Iarusso earned a gold medal for her chocolate peanut butter mousse with caramel corn ice cream, and Wilson Tech BOCES alumnus, from Lindenhurst, NY, Nicholas Giambrone earned a gold medal and the day’s highest score with a classical chicken dish Poulet Sauté Portugaise which put the exclamation point on the very successful day.

“This has been an amazing journey—to see the evolution of the program and remembering back to those early days and now seeing these students—it is just unbelievable! It is a tribute to those that came before, to my talented faculty and staff, and in particular, Chef Eric Pellizzari who has coached with me for all 600 plus,” said Dr. Frank Costantino, Dean for the program. Monroe Culinary, now a two-time state champion, will compete next at the regionals in Lancaster, PA in mid-February.