Culinology Team Qualifies for Nationals

Published Thursday, February 18, 2016
From left: Payton Irlbeck, Shakira Abu Samah, Hannah Dressen, Joe Quinlan
From left: Payton Irlbeck, Shakira Abu Samah, Hannah Dressen, Joe Quinlan

Four Southwest Minnesota State University Culinology majors will represent the University at the upcoming Research Chefs Association Student Culinology Competition in Denver, Colo., on March 10, 2016.

Competing for SMSU will be Hannah Dressen, a senior Culinology major from Bemidji, Minn.; Joe Quinlan, a senior Culinology major from Minneapolis; Payton Irlbeck, a senior Culinology major from Carroll, Iowa; and Shakira Abu Samah, a senior Culinology major from Melaka, Malaysia.

SMSU was one of six institutions selected for the competition. This is the sixth year for the competition, which is held at the annual Research Chefs Association Conference. SMSU has qualified a team all six years, and has twice won the competition.

This year’s competition category is Southwest Rocky Mountain Regional Cuisine. The SMSU team is preparing a Southwest Street Taco for the event.

Participating teams include SMSU, Kansas State University, Guelph (Canada), Wisconsin-Madison, Johnson & Wales and Taylor’s University (Malaysia).

The team will prepare the taco meal, freeze it and then carry it with them to the competition. The day of the competition, they will then prepare the same item on-site. The goal is to have the frozen entre thawed, cooked in a microwave and taste as close to the freshly-prepared, or gold standard, taco as possible. Teams must also make their entries for under $1.25 per serving, said Dr. Joyce Hwang, assistant professor of hospitality management.

“This competition involves all aspects of their coursework,” said Hwang. “They’ve really put in a lot of work and it’s been a great experience for them.”

The team has incorporated a local vendor, Heaven on Earth Bison near Lynd, as the meat supplier for its tacos.

The SMSU team started practicing last September and submitted its proposal last December. Team members said they brainstormed many entry ideas before settling on the taco.