This is the first time since 2008 that one college won both top titles for the Northeast.
Captained by junior Yudi Torres, Monroe's five-member team successfully competed against student teams from Columbus Culinary Institute, Johnson & Wales, Pierpont Community & Technical College and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Boston, ultimately bringing home five gold medals and the title of Northeast Regional Champions.
"Given the talented teams in New York and then the Northeast region, the incredible honor of winning both championships is testimony to the hard work and dedication of our team, and I couldn't be prouder of them," said Frank C. Costantino, dean of Monroe College's School of Hospitality Management and the Culinary Arts. "I'm looking forward to seeing what the national competition brings in July."
In addition to the team win, Aquayo earned an individual gold medal and was named the Northeast Regional Student Chef of the Year after competing head to head against a student from SUNY Delhi.
Her winning menu featured a contemporary trio of free-range chicken inspired by the flavors of Mexico, featuring a roasted stuffed breast with chorizo stuffing and tomatillo sauce, braised chicken and pinto bean flauta sauced with avocado cream and a fingerling lime, and leg-steamed adobado with mole sauce and a picadillo of butternut squash over winter greens.
For the team competition, the ACF required students to demonstrate proficiency in two key areas during two phases of the competition. The first phase is a technical skills salon, where students must exhibit mastery of butchery, fish filleting, knife cuts or pastry cream preparation. The second phase is a 75-minute cooking competition, during which students must produce a four-course menu composed of one classical course and a contemporary fish course, salad course and dessert of their own signature concept.
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