GRCC to defend Nations Cup title as it hosts international culinary competition

Oct. 15, 2019 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Two students from Secchia Institute for Culinary Education will defend Grand Rapids Community College’s title in the Nations Cup competition, an international event that challenges students to create elaborate meals with mystery ingredients.

Students Sidney Hyde and Shaylan Owen, with assistant professor Sasha Ahmed as coach, will represent Team USA, which won the previous Nations Cup in 2017.

They will compete against culinary students from Canada, Mexico and Scotland in the biennial event, which runs Thursday through Saturday in the kitchens of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.

The teams will be presented with mystery ingredients, which they must turn into five-star gourmet fare within 90 minutes. Spectators can follow the action through a live streaming link at grcc.edu/nationscup.

"Competitions are a great way to fuel the fire, passion, and culinary artistry,” said Dr. Werner Absenger, program director of the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. “Competitions push students and instructors to the utmost limits, helping students better understand the medium they work with.”

Absenger said students working with challenging deadlines and spectators also hone their stress management skills and time management skills.

“Those three skills -- mastering the art and craft of cooking, time management skills, and stress management skills -- are highly valued by employers,” he said. “Thus, culinary competitions are a valuable tool to prepare competitors for leadership positions in the hotel and restaurant management industry."

Chile won the first nations Cup in 2005, followed by Mexico in 2007, United States in 2009, Canada in 2011, and Scotland in 2013 and 2015.

Challengers this year are from the Culinary Institute of Canada, Institute Culinario de Mexico, and Edinburgh College from Scotland.

The panel of judges include local and international culinary educators and experts, including Chef Josef Huber, executive corporate chef of Amway Hospitality Corporation; Chef Ian MacDonald, Food and Beverage director of St. Andrews Links Trust, St. Andrews, Scotland; Chef Josue Villalvazo from Monterrey, Mexico; and Chef Angus Campbell, chef consultant and retired GRCC educator.

Awards will be presented during an Oct. 19 dinner featuring dishes from the competing countries.

The competition schedule:

Oct. 17

  • 8-9:30 a.m. -- Appetizer Mystery Box.
  • 10:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. -- Pasta Mystery Box.
  • 2-3:30 p.m. -- Fish/Shellfish Mystery Box.

Oct. 18

  • 8-9:30 a.m. -- Game Mystery Box.
  • 10:40 a.m. to 12:10 p.m. -- Poultry Mystery Box
  • 2-3:30 p.m. -- Dessert Mystery Box.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

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