UVU Culinary Arts Student Named 2019 Western Region Student Chef of the Year

Emma El-Farra

Emma El-Farra, a first-year UVU Culinary Arts student, won the prestigious Western Region Student Chef of the Year award at the American Culinary Federation competition held in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Feb. 2, 2019. She now advances to the ACF’s “Final Five” national competition in Orlando in August.

This marks the fourth straight year a UVU student has been named Western Region Student Chef of the Year. Two of the previous three winners went on to be named national student chef of the year.

“It was much more intense than I expected,” Emma said. “When you’ve got several judges standing over you watching your every move, it made me even more nervous than I already was.”

Emma, a sophomore from Santa Clarita, California, had only one hour to go from raw ingredients to finished plate. She finished with 10 seconds left on the clock, earning a gold medal for her efforts. “You do lose points if you are late at all,” she said. “I had practiced more than a dozen times without being late once, so the adrenaline was really pumping there at the end."

Emma wowed the judges with a complex plate built around fresh arctic char. Her signature menu consisted of pan-seared salt-rubbed arctic char with buttery roe-beurre blanc, char mousseline and king crab stuffed crepe, smoked char belly “bacon,” along with winter pea puree, sautéed asparagus, and glazed butternut squash.

“Emma has a real chance at greatness,” says Chef Todd Leonard, chair of the UVU Culinary Arts Institute. “Sometimes we’ll get a student who has a real drive, or a true passion, or determination, or real professionalism for this craft. Emma has all of those qualities, and a lot more, which give her a great chance at nationals and in her future career.”

To view photos of Emma’s competition, click here.