GRCC hosts international culinary students for Nations Cup competition



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


Oct. 8, 2013 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — You’re handed a box and told that you must use the ingredients in it to make a seafood dinner for four. You have 90 minutes, and judges will look over your shoulder while you’re doing it — so it had better be perfect.

Teams of students from five nations will take up that challenge next month, making themselves at home in the kitchens of Grand Rapids Community College’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. The biennial Nations Cup International Student Culinary Competition, Oct. 17 through 19, will showcase their skills and creativity in a competition that consists of six “mystery box” contests plus a National Team Dish cookoff.

“After teaching culinary students for 30 years, I still think the most incredible sight is the faces of our students when they open a mystery box containing live, head-on shrimp, pink peppercorns and navel oranges," said chef Angus Campbell, a SICE professor. "It blows my mind how quickly they decipher the ingredients, time constraints, skill sets, and available equipment to conclude a flawless plan for four plates of perfectly executed world-class food.”

You can follow the live coverage on Twitter and Instagram at #GRCC #NationsCup.

GRCC students will represent the United States. Barbados, Canada, Mexico and Scotland also will compete.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the students.

“The Nations Cup brings a wealth of cross-cultural knowledge, in terms of both culinary arts and the fact that the students from all nations get the chance to make lifelong connections and friendships,” said Ian MacDonald, executive chef of Pilmour House at St. Andrews Links and a Nations Cup judge. “This gives the students a greater, first-hand understanding of culinary styles from across the world, rather than reading recipes from a book or the Internet.”

Josef Huber, executive chef of the Amway Grand Plaza hotel, will serve as the competition’s lead judge. In addition to MacDonald, the other judges are chef Josue Villalvazo of the Instituto Culinario de Mexico, Nuevo Leon of Mexico, and chef Joel Boone of Pistachio’s Catering in Kalamazoo.

“The Nations Cup at the Secchia Institute is one of the best opportunities for West Michigan to display its dedication to education, cross-cultural exchange and the lessons that can be learned by competition," Huber said. "Each nation represents a varied and extensive culinary tradition that they bring to the competition as they share with their fellow participants. This learning experience is an asset and a value to the strength and future of our community. This convergence of cultures, ideas and friendship expand the opportunities for our students and our community.”

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.