LWIT team cooks up win at nat’l competition

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Culinary Team
Courtesy Photo National champions of the Culinary Knowledge Bowl include: Rich Hill, Meg Venema, Randall Poole and Sarah Ridges.
Hats off to Lake Washington Institute of Technology’s (LWIT) Culinary Knowledge Bowl team! Students Rich Hill, Meg Venema, Randall Poole and Sarah Ridges took home gold at the recent American Culinary Federation Baron H. Galand Culinary Knowledge Bowl national competition in Orlando, Fla.

They beat out three other regional winners to claim the title in this Jeopardy-style contest, testing fundamental cooking skills and culinary knowledge.

“We are thrilled to bring this championship home to LWIT,” says Chef Janet Shaffer, LWIT culinary faculty member and co-mentor of the team along with Chef Matt DiMeo. “A big thank you goes out to the Lake Washington College Foundation, our faculty and our students for helping support this incredible achievement.”

Though teams from the college have competed in this competition at the regional level before, they have never medaled or won.

“It’s a first for us,” adds Shaffer, “and it’s such a wonderful accomplishment for the students. I am so very proud of them.”

Shaffer explains that the students, all who volunteered to be on the team, are in the final stages of completing their two-year associate of applied science degree in culinary arts.

They began studying for the competition nine months ago, using a series of four books focusing on culinary, baking, food safety sanitation and costing knowledge. After winning regionals in Reno last winter, the team continued to push itself to prepare for nationals.

“It’s a tough competition,” comments Shaffer. “The questions are very challenging, as the students can be tested on very detailed and specific information so they have to know lots of little facts.” She adds, “It’s a Jeopardy style format, so you have to be really quick with the buzzer. Most of the time, the question isn’t read completely before a buzzer is sounded. The students just know what is going to be asked after hearing just the first part. They’re amazing!”

Shaffer sees the win as recognition for the students and the program on a national stage. But, she emphasizes that it’s really all about the experience, not the win that is the reason students participate.

“It’s an opportunity for them to challenge themselves, hone their skills and enrich their education, “she adds. “And it’s also a great way for them to meet others in the field, network and build relationships. It’s an invaluable experience for those who participate.”

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