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Former ACA Student Wins Jersey Seafood Challenge; Top Three Finishers Have Academy Ties

January 16, 2008

Twelve chefs from around the state gathered at the Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College Tuesday, Jan. 15, for the chance to be crowned the state's top seafood chef. After a full day of competition, Chef Peter Fischbach, a former ACA student, was judged winner. He will compete this August in the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans, which will feature 20 chefs and be televised on the Food Network.

Fischbach attended the Academy from 1996-97, and is executive chef and food service director for Gourmet Dining Services at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. He prepared Pan-Seared Local Black Bass and Nona's Friday Night Fish Feast. After hearing the results, Fischbach, of Elizabeth, said, "I will do my best to showcase all the wonderful seafood and produce that come from New Jersey and hopefully bring home the gold" in New Orleans.

Jahvin Carlough, sous chef at JP Prime in Wildwood, finished in second place. Carlough, of Cape May Court House, is a 2003 graduate of the Academy. "I was nervous. This was my first competition," Carlough said. He said he over-compensated by bringing extra supplies. "I was very meticulous about what I did. I was stunned when I was announced second place winner." He prepared Carrot Ginger Mahi-Mahi and Jersey Seafood and Fennel Broth.

Third place went to Vineland resident Michael Inferrera, a student at the ACA who earned the right to compete in the state competition after winning a student contest in November. His Jersey Cioppino and Black Bass con Prosciutto scored him the third place medal. Inferrera is a sous chef at Caesars Atlantic City. 

"It's very exciting that the top three finishers in the competition received training at the Academy. It's certainly a testament to both the quality of our students and the education we offer," said Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the ACA.

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

The event was organized by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture, and Secretary of Agriculture Charles Kuperus presented the awards at a reception in Careme's, the student-run, gourmet restaurant at the Academy. Fischbach received a trophy that will be inscribed with his name and turned over to the winners in subsequent years.

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; Rob Ohlsen, Epicurean Society of South Jersey; Jim Weaver, owner of Tre Piani in Princeton and member of Slow Food-New Jersey; Klaus Muller, retired dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts and former Jersey Seafood Challenge champ; 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 the NJDA, the Jersey Seafood Challenge was coordinated by Slow Food New Jersey, Eat-Drink New Jersey, the 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.