Each year, the talented chefs of the University of Georgia Food Services have the opportunity to compete in the National Association of College & University Food Services Culinary Challenge. All of the participants prepare the same basic main course, and then complete the meal with two side dishes of their choosing.

The University of Georgia chefs repeatedly leave their mark at the regional and national levels.

Contestants are allotted 75 minutes in which to prepare their hopeful masterpieces. Although the competitors may take advantage of preparatory time prior to this time limit, the hot entrée must be prepared in its entirety during the allotted 75 minutes.

The contestants are evaluated by three independent judges, who use the following as criteria: taste of the finished product, demonstration of cooking skills and culinary techniques, and the demonstration of organizational skills, including sanitation principles.

The first Culinary Challenge took place in 2001. That year, Chef Darnell Tate won third place overall at the national level of the competition. His plate of choice featured a marinade pork loin with pineapple and leeks, served with new potatoes, snow peas, and mini carrots with fresh ginger.

Culinary Challenge 2002 brought Chef Marshall Welch to the national competition in Orlando, Florida. Welch’s dish of pan seared day boat scallops with roasted red pepper, fresh asparagus, and sun dried tomato polenta madeleines, earned him a first place win in Region 3 and subsequently, the opportunity to represent Region 3 at the national level.

The third annual Culinary Challenge took place in 2003, and four UGA chefs won medals at the Region 3 competition. Chef Bryan Haymans won second place overall and earned a silver medal with his pepper encrusted beef tenderloin with port wine demi-glace, polenta cakes and asparagus. Chef Chris Denny earned a silver medal as well, and Chefs Bryan Varin and Paul Oesterle both earned bronze medals for their creations.

In the 2004 competition, two of our chefs were chosen to compete at the regional competition in New Orleans. Chef Bryan Haymans prepared an apple rosemary salmon dish served with sautéed spinach and sweet potato quenelles with a warm maple-cream sauce. Chef Bryan Varin chose to prepare seared salmon with purple potato quenelles, sautéed asparagus and rouille with pear tomato and basil garnish.

UGA's Culinary Team was again chosen to participate in the 2005 regional culinary competition in Chapel Hill . Chef Paul Oesterle prepared herb encrusted medallions of lamb with braised fennel and apple and honey glazed baby carrots. Chef Paul earned a Bronze Medal from the American Culinary Federation for his creation.

With an established record of excellence, the UGA culinary team was selected in 2006 to compete again in the Culinary Challenge, held at the University of New Mexico. Chef Bryan Varin prepared his recipe of Mediterranean chicken with lemon, asparagus and parsley red potatoes in the competition. Chef Bryan received second place in the competition and a bronze medal from the American Culinary Federation.

The 7th annual Culinary Challenge had two University of Georgia chefs competing at the regional level. Chef Bryan Haymans took third place and a Bronze medal with his dish of Hawaiian tofu with pineapple chutney served with coconut rice pilaf and mushroom/asparagus stir-fry. Chef Paul Oesterle's dish of tofu and calamata olive ravioli with sautéed wild mushrooms and green pea sauce took first place and a silver medal. Chef Paul competed with his dish at the 2007 National Competition in Seattle, Washington.

In 2008, Chef Bryan Varin’s recipe of striped bass with callaloo, spicy black eye peas and key lime butter sauce was selected for competition in the 8th Annual Southern Region Culinary Challenge. His recipe was inspired by the flavors of the Caribbean and included fresh ginger, garlic, jalapenos, coconut milk and cilantro. Chef Bryan placed second in the competition and earned a Silver Medal from the American Culinary Federation.

In 2009, Chef Paul Oesterle's recipe of Pan seared Trout with Roasted corn and apple-wood smoked bacon, wilted baby arugula, and a whole grain mustard cream sauce was selected for the 9th Annual Regional Culinary Challenge held at the University of North Carolina- Charlotte. Chef Paul placed second in the competition and earned a Silver Medal from the American Culinary Federation.

In 2010, Chef Chris Carriera’s recipe of portobello and prosciutto agnolotti, with garlic, spinach, and tomato basil jus was selected for the 10th Annual Regional Culinary Challenge held at the Gaylord Texan Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. Chef Chris placed second in the competition and earned a Silver Medal from the American Culinary Federation.

In 2011, Chef Shelly Orozco-Marr's recipe of seared beef tri-tip cutlets with tomato jam and buttered horseradish potatoes was selected for the 11th Annual Regional Culinary Challenge held at the Southern Region Conference at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. Chef Shelly placed fifth in the competition and earned a Bronze Medal from the American Culinary Federation.

In 2012, Chef Bryan Hayman's recipe of macadamia crusted flounder with black rice pilaf and tropical salsa served with a pineapple-ginger cream sauce was selected for the 12th Annual Regional Culinary Challenge held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Chef Bryan placed fourth in the competition and earned a Bronze Medal from the American Culinary Federation.

In 2013, Chef Shelly Orozco-Marrs prepared a seared duck with pancetta & chevre polenta, thyme butter carrots, sautéed arugula and a spiced madeira cherry jus dish for the 13th Annual Regional Culinary Challenge held at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. Chef Shelly earned an American Culinary Federation Silver Medal in the competition.

In 2014 Chefs Don Law and Tim Neal represented UGA at Oklahoma State in what was both chefs' first trip to a NACUFS Regional Culinary Challenge. Chef Don earned an American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal with a creative Lobster Pot Pie recipe. Chef Tim also brought home an American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal for a classic Southern Style Lobster Cake recipe.

     

In 2015 Chef Sam Somar from The Village Summit represented UGA at the Southern Region NACUFS Regional Culinary Challenge at NC State. Chef Sam earned an American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal with his recipe. 

   

In 2016 Chef Kenya Moore from Oglethorpe Dining Commons represented UGA at the Southern Region NACUFS Culinary Challenge at Murray State. Chef Kenya earned an American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal with her recipe. 

NACUFS Culinary Challenge

  • 2001
    • Chef Darnell Tate
      • 1st Place Regional Culinary Challenge
      • 3rd place - National Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2002
    • Chef Marshall Welch
      • 1st Place Regional Culinary Challenge
      • National Culinary Challege
  • 2003
    • Chef Bryan Haymans
      • 2nd Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Silver Medal
    • Chef Chris Denny
      • Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Silver Medal
    • Chef Bryan Varin
      • Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
    • Chef Paul Oesterle
      • Regional Culinary Challege
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2004
    • Chef Bryan Haymans
      • 3rd Place Regional Culinary Challenge
    • Chef Bryan Varin
      • Regional Culinary Challenge
  • 2005
    • Chef Paul Oesterle
      • Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2006
    • Chef Bryan Varin
      • 2nd Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2007
    • Chef Paul Oesterle
      • 1st Place-Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Silver Medal
      • National Culinary Challenge
    • Chef Bryan Haymans
      • 3rd Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2008
    • Chef Bryan Varin
      • 2nd Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Silver Medal
  • 2009
    • Chef Paul Oesterle
      • 2nd Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Silver Medal
  • 2010
    • Chef Chris Carriera
      • 2nd Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Silver Medal
  • 2011
    • Chef Shelly Orozco-Marrs
      • 5th Place-Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2012
    • Chef Bryan Haymans
      • 4th Place-Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2013
    • Chef Shelly Orozco-Marrs
      • ACF Silver Medal
  • 2014
    • Chef Don Law
      • 6th Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
    • Chef Tim Neal
      • ACF Bronze Medal
      • 4th Place - Regional Culinary Challenge
  • 2015
    • Chef Sam Somar
      • 2nd Place-Regional Culinary Challenge
      • ACF Bronze Medal
  • 2016
    • Chef Kenya Moore
      • ACF Bronze Medal
Year Earned: 
2016
Award Type: 
NACUFS Culinary Challenge