Feb. 17, 2005
Instructors and students from HACC's Benjamin Olewine III Center for the Study of Culinary Arts and Food Service Management recently took home top honors from competitions that pitted them against some of the area's finest chefs.

The program at central Pennsylvania's community college has built a growing reputation for turning out high caliber chefs.

At the October Taste of Central Pennsylvania, a fundraising event that benefits the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, the students earned First Place for Best Themed Booth with "The Knights of the Roundtable.'

"The students did a great job and had a lot of fun with this event," said Timothy Harris, coordinator of HACC's Culinary Institute. "We tied everything in, even using gold linens and borrowing props from our campus theater department. We had an ice carving that looked like King Arthur's sword stuck in the rock and a roasted suckling pig with an apple in its mouth."

Earlier in the fall instructors and former students let their talents shine at the Art of Food fundraiser hosted by the Harrisburg Art Association.

Chef Harris won Best of Plate in the Garde Manger (cold food) category and Best of Show for his fall-themed creation. Two former students and current business partners, Autumn Miles and Diane Way won the People's Choice award for the third year in a row for their plates and display. Cher Conley, part-time pastry instructor and pastry chef at HACC's C. Ted Lick Wildwood Conference Center, won Best Dessert and had her creations featured in the November issue of Harrisburg Magazine.

This month the HACC students and staff were at the annual Chocolatefest at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, taking home several prizes.

In the professional division, Chef Randy Wyche, culinary chef credit and noncredit instructor placed third in Tastiest, for his "Love is Karma" - a chai and green tea flavored cake topped with a chocolate sculpture.

Chef Conley placed second in Prettiest for "Fountain of Love." She made a traditional wedding Spanish white cake with almonds and chunks of white chocolate.

Chef Harris won third for Most Creative Display of Theme, second for Most Original and third in the Overall division for "Love is in the air" a 25 lb., chocolate toffee mocha crunch cake in the shape of a bumble bee hive.

In the student division, three HACC students earned four awards.

Joe Padamonsky won first place in the Tastiest category for his chocolate cake in the shape of a wedding ring. Elisha Latham won third in the same category for her "Celestial Love" cake made of chocolate and black currant mousse with a sun and crescent moon. Latham also placed third in the Overall category for her cake.

Josh Hoover's cake, in the shape of an octagon and decorated like a poker table called "Straight Hearts," placed second in the Most Creative category.

In all eight of HACC's students took part in the competition, and all of HACC's baking and pastry and culinary students worked on preparing for the Chocolatefest.

Chef Harris encourages his students to participate in the competitions to build their confidence level and increase their exposure.

"We have very talented students," he said. "We want to stand out. And, we want it known in the central Pennsylvania area and throughout New Jersey, Delaware, and New York, that we have a program that might not be as big as some, but our students are just as competitive in the market."

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