Three SPSCC Students Vie For Prize And Cooking Class Teaching Opportunity

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Don Webster is one of three South Puget Sound Community College students participating in a Top Chef style competition at Bayview School of Cooking.


By Brooke Guthrie

cooking classes olympia wa
Don Webster is one of three South Puget Sound Community College students participating in a Top Chef style competition at Bayview School of Cooking.

Three culinary students from South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC) will compete for the title of top chef and teaching their own culinary class at Bayview School of Cooking Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. The three were chosen by their teacher, Chef Bill Wiklendt.

Elizabeth Simmons, Brad Thompson and Don Webster will individually prepare dishes for the competition and must use turkey breast, Brussels sprouts, pickled sushi ginger, English muffins and Lyle’s golden syrup for their concoction.

Bayview School of Cooking Director Leanne Willard said she wanted to work with SPSCC because it’s the only culinary school in the area and the students and the program are well thought of.

The competition will be held through the Bayview School of Cooking, costs $45 and includes a complimentary wine pairing. Attendees will judge the culinary students on teaching style, taste, visual presentation and creativity. All are important attributes for the winner’s prize of teaching a Bayview cooking class. There is also the opportunity for attendees to win prizes.

Willard hopes the competition can be held annually after this first event. She is excited for the Bayview audience participants to try the recipes, learn how to put them together and get a wine sample with each. They will also think about and rate how the flavors go together, the plated dish and what makes an effective presentation.

Elizabeth Simmons

She will be making herb crusted turkey breast cutlet for the competition. She is working towards her bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management and graduates this spring with her Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts. She has been in the Shelton Oyster Festival cooking competition this past year but has not been in a top chef like competition.

Brad Thompson

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For Elizabeth Simmons (center), competing in a Top Chef style competition will be a new experience.

He graduates this month and hopes to work in the restaurant industry. He has prior competition experience, earning silver and bronze medals at the Oysterfest Cookoff in 2011 and 2012 and first place in the Taste of Tumwater Sandwich Throwdown. He will be making turkey meatballs on crispy Brussels sprout leaves with pickled ginger gastrique and toast points.

“It’s pretty simple, but it features the flavors and functions of all the required ingredients,” he said.  “As for the ingredients, I was perplexed at first with how to make them work together, but once the ball gets rolling the challenge becomes which ideas are best as opposed to having ideas at all.”

Don Webster

He hopes to operate his own restaurant down the road, offering educational courses about food. He will be making turkey roulade accompanied with an arugula and bell pepper salad.

“The biggest reason I chose to enter the culinary world is that food has always been a large part of my life,” he said. “Growing up, my family always congregated around the dinner table and consequently, did most of our bonding around food. Some of my happiest memories are based around favorite restaurants or Sunday dinners at my grandmother’s house. I hope that one day a family can build fond memories of visiting my (restaurant) tables together as well.

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Don Webster is representing SPSCC’s culinary program. He hopes to earn the title of Top Chef and an opportunity to teach a cooking class at Bayview School of Cooking this summer.

Webster said, “I think the ingredient list we were issued was eclectic to say the least.   I came up with a few different ideas, but it always seemed like once I had four ingredients working how I wanted, the fifth would interject and ruin everything.”

“I decided to stop trying to force the square peg through the triangular slot so to speak, and decided to compliment the different ingredients instead of trying to force them together,” added Webster. “I’m very happy with what I’ve come up with, and am looking forward to trying it out publicly.”

“I’m excited about it because it gives great exposure to our students, our culinary program, the baking and pastry arts program, the Clipper Café, the Percival Dining Room and South Puget Sound Community College,” Wiklendt said.

The Top Chef competition is based on the popular show, Chopped, on the Food Network. The two runners up will receive a $50 gift card to locally owned Bayview or Ralph’s Thriftway and the winner will receive a $100 gift card and a gig teaching a Bayview class this summer.

“It’s also great for Bayview School of Cooking because it’s something new.  It’s completely ‘new blood’ teaching what they know and it’s just going to be a fun event,“ Willard said.

To attend the event, call Bayview School of Cooking at 754.1448.

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