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Winners Announced for Academy of Culinary Arts Iron Student Chef Competition

May 1, 2013

Twenty-nine culinary students gathered in Careme’s gourmet restaurant on the campus of Atlantic Cape Community College to get their cooking orders on April 29. 

At 9:30 a.m. sharp, it was time to start the 9th annual Iron Student Chef competition sponsored by the Culinary Student Association at Atlantic Cape’s Academy of Culinary Arts and coordinated by Chef Vincent Tedeschi of Northfield. The students were organized into six teams. Their mission: to create four dishes, each incorporating a tightly guarded secret ingredient revealed only minutes before the start of cooking. The teams were given 15 minutes to create recipes and 90 minutes to cook. 

The secret ingredient to be included in each team’s four dishes, from appetizers to entrees: Brussels sprout. The teams were given Brussels sprout and a variety of other ingredients and told to produce two plates for each dish, one for display, and the other for judging.

The first place trophy-winning team included: Joseph Mikitish of Cherry Hill, Kaitlin Miller of West Creek, Brandon Puckett of Vineland and Ashley Simmons of Williamstown.

The second place team, silver medal winners: Peter Almonte of Pennsauken, Brian Murray of Blackwood, Alex Waters of Egg Harbor Township and John Zaitoun of Egg Harbor Township.

The bronze medal third place team: Amy Bobel of Grenloch, Vanessa Burk of Ocean City, Chris Gora of Erial, Elizabeth Kurban of Egg Harbor Township and Alexis Pelaschier of Sicklerville.

The winning team prepared Farro Risotto with Brussels Sprout, Pancetta and Goat Cheese, Stuffed Brussels, Brussels Sprout Trio and Orange Brussels.

Chef Tia McDonald of Philadelphia, director of culinary operations for the Vetri Foundation for Children in Philadelphia, and Chef Josiah Andrews of Absecon, chef at White Dog Cafe in Philadelphia, were this year’s tasting judges. Kitchen judges were ACA Chef Educators Daniel Matt of Mays Landing and Philip Cragg of Lanoka Harbor and ACA students and American Culinary Federation Junior Member State Champions and 2013 Northeast Regional Competitors Alex Valletta of Brigantine and Andy Montchyk of Bellmawr.

Judging was based on a possible 50 points, including 10 points each for flavor, knowledge of item, presentation, originality and sanitation. Teams lost 10 points for lateness and 10 points if kitchen/lab clean up was not satisfactory.

The Academy hosts the Iron Student Chef competition each spring. For more information on the Academy of Culinary Arts, call (800) 645-CHEF or visit