Culinary Art Students Take on Secret Ingredient

Culinary art students learn a great deal about the pressure and challenges of a real commercial kitchen through culinary art competitions like the Iron Chef competition hosted by Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts. And it’s about much more than knowing how to cook – competitions require months of advanced planning, often involve at least one surprise element for students to incorporate into the meal, and presentation is as critical as taste to the success of the student’s work. In some competitions, like the one below, the secret ingredient is something that the culinary rt students wouldn’t normally incorporate into a dish:

MAYS LANDING, N.J. – Lined up in clean chef’s whites and paper toques, five teams competing Monday in Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts annual Student Iron Chef Competition – the school’s version of the popular television show – were nearly breathless waiting to find out the secret ingredient.

Would it be clams? Squid? Or scup, the decidedly unglamorous bottom-dwelling fish species known around here as porgie?

Porgie it was.

And by the end of the six-hour exercise – in which the teams of five students each were judged on communication, presentation, and other skills – about 20 dishes had emerged from the kitchens, all featuring the firm, mild-flavored white fish. There were porgie tacos, porgie puffs, pork-fried rice porgie. Porgie was made into soup and served with pasta. It was stuffed, roasted, and pureed. Even a particularly alliterative dish featuring poached porgie with polenta made it into the competition.

It all put one in the mind of spam à la Benny Hill.

“This really gives the students a chance to work as a team, devise recipes, and execute them under the pressure of competition with that secret ingredient in each dish. And it’s fun,” said chef Vincent Tedeschi, an instructor who conceived of the student iron… Read more at

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