UMass Catering chef Matthia Accurso captured a gold medal and took first place in the 2014 Culinary Challenge staged at the annual conference of the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS), held July 8-12 in Baltimore.
Representing the Northeast region of NACUFS, Accurso won the title with his slow-cooked lobster with lobster kale tortellini, citrus glazed carrots, celery root and fennel butter sauce. The event tasked chefs with featuring lobster as the protein in their dishes.
Thomas Schraa, catering chef at the University of Maryland also won a gold medal for his lobster stew, but Accurso edged him out by “the slimmest of margins,” according to the ACF judges for the event.
All six chefs in the competition had earned the right to compete by winning their regions’ competition. They performed their culinary magic in a Food Network-style atmosphere during the NACUFS industry appreciation reception. Three chefs served as announcers for the two-hour event, keeping spectators up to date on the chefs’ progress while adding tidbits of information about the chefs and their dishes.