Maureen "Molly" Brandt, Culinary Institute of America (CIA) graduate, won the Allure of the Seas Culinary Challenge and a one-year paid contract to be the chef de cuisine of 150 Central Park onboard the Allure of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

Maureen "Molly" Brandt plates her dishes during the final challenge

Brandt was one of six chefs--all CIA graduates--to be a finalist in the challenge, a contest open exclusively to The CIA's alumni network. The six chefs participated in a two-part final challenge at the college's Hyde Park campus in New York on Aug. 5 and 6, where they prepared a three-course meal for a panel of judges from Royal Caribbean and The CIA. The panel also interviewed the finalists.

(l to r) Frank Weber, vice president, food and beverage operations, Royal Caribbean International; Maureen "Molly" Brandt; Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, hotel operations, Royal Caribbean International; and Ron DeSantis, director, CIA consulting, The CIA

Brandt's winning dish consisted of chilled lobster with fennel, carrots, citrus, caviar and tempura battered lobster; Provencal lamb loin with Dijon potato purée, ratatouille, pattypan squash and olive tapenade; and pistachio cake with whipped rosewater crème fraîche and carbonated raspberries.

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Seven of the country's leading pastry chefs and chocolatiers have been selected to compete in the U.S. selections for the 2011 World Chocolate Masters event in Paris. The competition, organized by Barry Callebaut, will take place Sept. 27 and 28 during the International Baking Industry Exposition in Las Vegas. The contestants will make Aztec-inspired sculptures out of gourmet chocolate.

The winner of the U.S. selections competition will advance to the 2011 World Chocolate Masters, where he or she will compete against culinary artisans from approximately 20 other countries. (Pictured, right, Lionel Clement, former chef chocolatier at the Wynn Las Vegas, was the last U.S. National Chocolate Master.)

This year's competitors for the U.S. selections for the World Chocolate Masters include:
by Russell L. Bean, CFSP

In "Venting in the kitchen" (read it here!) in the August 2010 issue of Chef Magazine, we discuss the latest in kitchen ventilation technology, from green Type I hoods to ventless systems to ultraviolet light solutions. To prepare you for speaking with your ventilation system specialist, Chef has pulled together a ventilation jargon and acronym guide.

Type I Hoods
Designed to capture heat and moisture, plus smoke and grease, these hoods are typically required for frying, broiling and griddle cooking operations. These hoods must have water-tight construction and a built-in fire suppression system.

Type II Hoods
Designed to capture heat and moisture, they also can be used for dishwashing and some baking and steam equipment.

Unlisted Hoods
Unlisted hoods must meet the materials, design and exhaust rate requirements of local building and health codes.

Listed Hoods
Listed hoods are tested to meet a recognized standard, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standard 710, which specifies construction materials, design requirements and capture performance.

Ventless Hoods/Systems
These are smaller hood systems that capture then clean air using multiple filters, before exhausting the "clean" air back into the kitchen.

Proximity Hoods
As the name implies, these are back-shelf, pass-over and eyebrow-style hoods that are positioned just above the cooking equipment.

UV Systems
These are hoods that use ultraviolet light to convert--or reduce the size of--a significant portion of grease particulate into carbon dioxide and water.

Side Panels
Full and partial side panels are designed to help capture and contain effluents at the end of a hood.

This is a transitional sheet-metal fabrication that connects the hood to the exhaust duct.

Effluents are a commonly used collective for all cooking process byproducts including heat, moisture, combustion gases, smoke, grease and odors.

Capture and Containment
The goal of all hood systems, to "capture" 100 percent of all effluents produced by cooking processes, plus waste heat and humidity; and "contain" these cooking byproducts until they are either exhausted to the building exterior or filtered and returned to the kitchen.

Makeup (Supply, Replacement) Air
This is the fresh air brought in to replace air consumed by gas burner combustion or exhausted by the ventilation system. Air removed by an exhaust hood must be replaced by an equal volume of replacement air.

Effluent particulate is typically measured in microns, a unit of measure that is one-millionth of a meter, or .000001 m.

Short for cubic feet per minute, CFMs are a measure of the air volume removed from a kitchen by an exhaust hood and venting system, and/or the volume of makeup air added or returned to the kitchen.

Short for feet per minute, this is a measurement of the speed of air moving through an exhaust system or part thereof.

For foodservice operations large and small, it might seem like there are never enough hours in the day to complete everything on the daily prep list. RATIONAL's overnight cooking feature can reduce the unevenness of the work during the day by conducting some of the longer cooking processes unattended after hours. The SelfCooking Center and its overnight cooking feature enable operators to make the use of their equipment during non-operational hours--leaving the unit available during operational hours to prepare foods that can't be made ahead of time.

RATIONAL SelfCooking Center

Specifically, the overnight cooking feature can be used to prepare a wide variety of meats, typically larger cuts of meat including prime rib, roasts, pork medallions, ribs, turkey breast and roast duck. The feature is easy to use, chefs select the browning and desired doneness of the food, and the SelfCooking Center determines the cooking time. The process keeps the meat tender and juicy without the need for monitoring the cooking process or basting. Meats of different sizes and cuts can be prepared simultaneously to specification.

Epicurean Catering in Centennial, Colo., uses the SelfCooking Center for overnight cooking at INVESCO Field at Mile High. "All the roasts for the 144 carving stations in the suites are done overnight. We just load the units the evening before, and when we take them out in the morning, we have unbeatable quality with almost 50 percent less shrinkage than traditional cooking methods," said Larry DiPasquale, Epicurean president and CEO. Instead of coming in at 2 a.m., using overnight cooking, DiPasquale's staff can arrive at 6 with a good portion of their work completed.

As DiPasquale learned, products prepared using the overnight cooking feature have significantly reduced yield loss compared to conventional cooking equipment. For example, to yield 7 pounds of cooked product, a chef would cook 8 pounds of meat using the overnight cooking process instead of 10 pounds using conventional cooking equipment. This equates to a product cost savings of 20 percent. In addition to the cost savings, the overnight cooking process also follows all of the HACCP guidelines--ensuring that the operation is running within industry standards.

RATIONAL provides a hands-on experience with the SelfCooking Center® through its TeamCooking Live events. Register for TeamCooking Live at The events, which take place on a range of dates at over 100 venues nationwide, are guided by one of the company's culinary consultants.