Dining Services Chef Takes Bronze

Dining Services Chef Takes Bronze

Wednesday, April 09, 2014
Todd Sweet

Lobster might not be on the menu in UNH dining halls, but if one of Dining Services’ chefs can take the bronze in a regional competition where that’s the main ingredient, imagine what he does with more traditional college fare. 

Executive chef Todd Sweet recently placed third in the National Association of College & University Food Services Culinary Challenge for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions. The event had nine chefs from across the area showcasing their skills while competing for gold, silver and bronze medals. 

Rules of the contest called for each chef to prepare an entrée to serve four people using two, 2.5 pound live Maine lobsters. The competitors had one hour to prepare the meal, including sauces and side dishes.   

Sweet made poached lobster with mustard spätzle (a type of egg noodle or dumpling), braised Swiss chard and a dill hollandaise. 

“I had practiced my dish six times before the event, having the staff and colleagues critique it along the way. The practice paid off, since I finished my dish with a minute to spare,” Sweet says.

The annual culinary challenge, held before a live audience of college and university foodservice managers and industry suppliers, recognizes outstanding food preparation and presentation in collegiate dining services. Judges for the recent competition were all certified master chefs. 

“They gave me a lot of good feedback and pointers on how I could have improved the dish. In these competitions, the critique is the most valuable part, since we rarely have the opportunity for world-class chefs to focus on our cooking,” Sweet says. “Although I earned a bronze medal, the advice that the judges gave me will definitely help me to improve my performance the next time.”  

That desire to progress is nothing new to Sweet, a certified chef through the American Culinary Federation. To earn that distinction, he had to take classes in nutrition, sanitation and supervision; complete a 100-question written exam; and take a practicum exam where he had to create a menu and three-course meal from limited ingredients.

“Dining is extremely pleased with Todd’s results in this challenging regional competition. His bronze medal signifies his exceptional culinary skills among a large delegation of his peers. Todd uses those same skills to create delicious dishes for our guests every day,” says Jon Plodzik, director of Dining Services. 

The NACUFS Northeast Regional Culinary Challenge took place March 19-22 at Rutgers University, with chefs representing colleges and universities from across the region including, among others, Yale University, UMass Amherst, the University of Connecticut and Penn State.