MISSOULA – Katie Barnes, a second-year culinary arts student at Missoula College University of Montana, placed second at the American Culinary Federation’s Student Chef of the Year competition, winning a silver medal.
The competition took place Feb. 3-5 in Joliet, Illinois. Barnes competed among ten other semifinalists from colleges across the region for the Student Chef of the Year title. The first-place winner went on to compete in nationals.
For her final dish, Barnes prepared deep-fried malasada with milk-chocolate ganache; blood-orange caramel sauce; caramel iced-banana slices; macadamia nut pineapple ice cream; macadamia tuile; and candied cilantro leaf.
“I think I slept a whole three hours the night before,” Barnes said.
The Student Chef of the Year winner was announced Feb. 7, but Barnes had to wait another week to learn how she placed among the other competitors. After much anticipation, Barnes found out that she placed second with a score of 83.
Barnes said she now feels even more motivated to compete for Student Chef of the Year again next year and win the title.
“This makes me want to try that much harder to be back there next year and win,” Barnes said. “I’d love to make it to nationals – that in itself would be awesome.”
The competition also served as a great learning experience, Barnes said. She met professional chefs from around the world competing for the ACF Chef of the Year title. One master chef even encouraged Barnes to compete for the ACF Culinary Team USA – otherwise known as the “Culinary Olympics Team.”
In the meantime, Barnes is encouraging other culinary students to compete. Several Missoula College culinary students have shown interest in competition and she hopes to enter upcoming culinary competitions near Missoula with them.