UVU’s Culinary Arts Institute Dominates at Western Regionals (Again)

A record fourteen members of UVU’s Culinary Arts Institute came home with gold medals from the American Culinary Federation’s Western Regional competition held March 17-20 in Newport Beach, CA. The fourteen gold medals are the most won by a single institution in the history of the ACF. Eight of UVU’s winners will now advance to the ACF national championships in New Orleans, July 15-19.

Todd Leonard, associate professor and UVU’s CAI department chair, won a gold medal as he was named Western Regional ACF Chef of the Year. This award is the most prestigious award given by the ACF. Chef Todd was assigned veal cheek and veal flank to create his signature dish and make four portions in one hour. Chef Todd will now compete for National Chef of the Year honors at the National ACF Convention in New Orleans.

Diana Fallis, UVU CAI Associate Professor, was named the Western Regional Pastry Chef of the Year. Competitors for pastry chef of the year were required to use several assigned ingredients to create four portions of a signature hot dessert. Chef Diana, known for her amazing dessert creations, earned a gold medal and now advances to the ACF Nationals and will compete for the National Pastry Chef of the Year title.

UVU student Utahna Warren was also named Western Regional Student Chef of the Year. In addition to advancing to the national finals and earning a gold medal, Warren also won “Best in Show” having the highest score of any competitor. To win her title, Warren was required to cook duck leg quarter, preparing two portions of her signature plate cooked in one hour with a 10 minute plate-up window. This marks the third straight year a UVU student has been named Western Regional Student Chef of the Year. The last two UVU regional winners also went on to win the National title.

Additionally, a four-member team of UVU Culinary Arts students also won the Western Regional Culinary Knowledge Bowl event. Members of UVU’s Western Regional Knowledge Bowl gold medal winning championship team are Jeremy Hanson, Hailey Newman, Abby Raff and Alex Robertson with Karri Lowe as alternate. UVU Chef Instructor KJ Francum and Chef Instructor Meghan Roddy served as the team’s coaches. As regional champs, UVU’s team also now advances to the nationals in New Orleans.

UVU also entered a team in the Hot Foods Team competition and came away with six gold medals. This year’s team consisted of Lydia Harri, Tracy Haupt, Eric Patino and Dallon Stewart with Jaden White as alternate. The team was coached by Lyn Wells, who also won gold. The team had to compete in a rigorous set of skills including fish butchery, chicken butchery, pastry and knife skills. Then the team competed in a timed cooking event where they prepare four portions of four courses including a dessert with one of the courses being a classical dish. UVU’s student hot foods team did earn gold medals but were edged out by a team from California for the right to advance to the national championships.

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