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Vineland Resident Wins Student Seafood Challenge

December 10, 2007

Mike Inferrera's Jersey Ciopino was all about the Garden State, from the local clams, mussels and scallops, to the Jersey tomatoes and freshly baked Atlantic City bread. It was one of two original dishes he prepared in the Student Seafood Challenge at the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College Nov. 29. Inferrera, of Vineland, was among nine students to participate in the challenge. As winner, he will compete in the 2008 New Jersey Seafood Challenge Jan. 15 at the Academy.

Each student had two hours to prepare a "Down the Shore Platter" and a "Signature Dish" focusing on Jersey seafood. The students were judged on their work and technique in the kitchen, as well as the presentation and taste of their final dishes.

In addition to his Jersey Ciopino, Inferrera impressed the judges with Black Bass con Prosciutto.

Judges included: Paul Dillon, executive director of the Culinary Arts Institute at Hudson County Community College and host of Comcast's "Let's Cook;" Gary Giberson, executive chef at Lawrenceville School and member of Slow Food-New Jersey; Michael Giletto, Culinary FX Foodstyling/Worldwide; James Hennessey, '00 ACA, executive chef at Specchio and Ombra at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa; Alex Rogers, '91 ACA, executive chef at Inlet Café in Atlantic Highlands; Jennifer Whittle, '02 ACA, executive sous chef at Manasquan River Golf Club; Michael Williams, '92 ACA, executive restaurant chef and culinary recruitment director for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa.

In addition to Inferrera, the participating students were: Juliano Cannuscio of Galloway, Alex La Cava of Egg Harbor Township, Robert Mustardo of Ventnor, Phil Petullo of Ventnor, DJ Tangalin of Cape May Court House, Thomas Thorn of Medford, Sheha Waters of Somers Point and Carlie Worden of Sewell.

Inferrera will be one of 12 professional chefs to compete in the statewide challenge. The winner of the state competition will represent New Jersey in the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans in August, which will feature 20 chefs and will be televised on the Food Network.

The Jersey Seafood Challenge is being coordinated by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, Garden State Seafood Association, Slow Food-New Jersey, Eat-Drink New Jersey, New Jersey Restaurant Association, Rutgers Cooperative Extension, New Jersey Chapters of the American Culinary Federation, New Jersey Sea Grant and New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium. The NJDA provided all seafood for the student competition.