Nico Romo, executive chef of The William Aiken House, Fish, Lowndes Grove and The American Theater in Charleston, S.C., received the title of Master Chef of France by the Association of the Master Chefs of France during a ceremony in Dijon, France, March 14 to 16. Romo (pictured, below), age 30, is the youngest chef to ever receive this distinction.

A native of Lyon, France, Romo graduated from The Helene Boucher Culinary Art School in Venissieux, France, at 19 and trained under Master Chef Patrick Henrioux at La Pyramide Hotel and Restaurant in Vienne, France, and later at Restaurant Pierre Orsi in Lyon under Master Chef M. Pierre Orsi. As executive chef at The William Aiken House, Fish, Lowndes Grove and The American Theater in Charleston, S.C., Romo oversees the development and execution of the culinary programs for the four historic properties.
The dining services team at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., took first place in the Mushroom Council's Best Mushroom Recipe contest, which was held exclusively for foodservice directors within the Big Ten athletic conference at Kendall College in Chicago. Purdue won best overall dish with its vegetarian mushroom stir fry.

In addition to best overall dish, the chefs were judged on dishes in three categories: entrée, pizza and sandwich. Purdue's chefs came out on top in both the pizza and entrée categories with their roasted portobello pizza and vegetarian mushroom stir fry. The University of Iowa won first place in the sandwich category with a chorizo breakfast sandwich with mushroom gravy. Read on to see the winning recipe for vegetarian mushroom stir fry, with wine pairing by Chef Magazine wine consultant Marlene Rossman.

Vegetarian Mushroom Stir Fry
Purdue University dining services, West Lafayette, Ind., and

Yield: 24 servings

1 1/2 c. vegetarian oyster sauce
1 c. + 2 T. sugar
3/4 c. soy sauce
1 T. sesame oil
4 1/2 qts. water
1 c. + 2 T. cornstarch
3/4 c. vegetarian soup base
5 lbs. firm tofu, drained and cut into triangles (1/2" by 1/2")
3 lbs. dry rice stick noodles
1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. garlic, minced
1/2 c. ginger, peeled and minced
6 lbs. shiitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 1/2 lbs. carrots, sliced, blanched and drained
5 lbs. Chinese broccoli, cleaned, cut into 4" pieces, blanched and drained

Method (1)
Whisk together oyster sauce, sugar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer. (2) Whisk together water, cornstarch and soup base. Combine with oyster sauce mixture, and heat until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat. (Makes about 6 1/2 qts.) (3) Heat a deep fryer until 375 to 400°F. Fry tofu triangles in batches until golden brown, turning once. Drain on paper towels. Set aside. (4) For each serving prepared to order, in deep fryer, cook 1 1/2 oz. rice stick noodles until puffed but not browned. Drain on paper towels. (5) In a wok, heat 2 T. oil over high heat. Stir-fry 1/2 t. garlic and 1 t. ginger until fragrant. Add 4 oz. mushrooms, and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 oz. carrots, 2 1/2 oz. broccoli and approximately 2 oz. fried tofu. Stir-fry to heat through, 1 minute. Add about 1 c. sauce mixture, and simmer until heated through. (6) To serve, spoon the rice sticks in a bowl, and ladle vegetables and sauce on top. Serve immediately.

Wine pairing: Alma Rosa Pinot Noir 2007 (California)