MC Culinary Arts Student Cooks up Gold in National Competition

May 24, 2016

Katie Barnes. Photo by Dennis Webber Photography.

MISSOULA – A culinary arts student at Missoula College of the University of Montana recently created the top pastry dessert at the American Culinary Federation and Washington State Chefs Association Culinary Competition in Bellingham, Washington.

Katie Barnes, a first-year student at Missoula College UM from El Paso, Texas, took home a gold medal for her deep-fried bunyols with dark chocolate filling, accompanied by a rhubarb caramel sauce, fresh strawberries and pistachio butter ice cream topped with caramel brittle. The competition, held at Bellingham Technical College on May 15, drew more than 60 student and professional chefs from across the country.

“It was an incredible experience to be able to watch fellow students and professionals compete,” Barnes said. “I have never been in a situation where words of encouragement were the only things said by fellow culinarians and chefs to lift you up. There was not one negative comment during my weekend there.”

Barnes said the competition took discipline. She had 15 minutes to set up, one hour to prepare her dessert and 10 minutes to plate it. Starting two months before the competition, she woke up daily at 4 a.m. to practice preparing the dish before class.

“The most challenging part was the commitment,” Barnes said. “There were multiple times where I thought to myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ However, coming back home with a gold made it worth it, and I would do it all again just to feel that pride.”

Missoula College sponsored Barnes’ participation in the competition.

For more information call Missoula College culinary arts chef instructor Thomas Campbell at 406-243-7815 or email


Contact: Thomas Campbell, Missoula College culinary arts chef instructor, 406-243-7815,; Katie Barnes, Missoula College culinary arts student,