Cook Off Celebrates Local County Heritage

May 12th, 2015

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County pride was abundant as teams of culinary students from 11 county vocational-technical schools competed in the 4th annual County Vocational-Technical School Cook-off on May 8. The creative table displays and small plates prepared by students were a visual and delectable feast for several hundred county officials wrapping up the NJ Association of Counties annual May conference in Atlantic City.

County officials were lined up at the window of Cumberland County Technical Education Center’s food truck display created with help from the district’s carpentry students. Their organic and locally-sourced C-Sizzle sliders took home the coveted People’s Choice award.

Middlesex County Perth Amboy Campus emphasized the Rutgers connection with their own food truck theme featuring gourmet Braised Short Rib Sliders, awarded top honors by the Atlantic City Chef judging panel.

Essex County’s North 13th Street Campus celebrated the county’s heritage with “Eataly di Essex,” an Italian deli theme featuring Apricot Glazed Chicken Bruschetta and Italian Wedding Soup.

“Farm to table” was the guiding theme for Hunterdon County Polytech, which served Coffee Charred Buffalo Carpaccio accompanied with a garnish of locally foraged ramp aoli. And Passaic County Technical Institute celebrated New Jersey farmers and fisherman with Local Crab and Toma Cheese Rice Ball that featured Jersey-grown rice and asparagus.

Cape May Tech celebrated the sea with a striking ice sculpture and hand-rolled sushi, winning top honors for presentation from the NJ Association of Counties judges panel and second place in the People’s Choice category. They learned the art of sushi-making from district chemistry teacher Daniel Takayama, who is a also an accomplished sushi chef.

South-of-the-border tastes were also in abundance, as Bergen Tech’s Paramus Campus fried empanadas on-site, and the Penn Tech campus of Camden County Technical School prepared spicy Mango Tomatillo Pico de Gallo with poached shrimp.

Two-time winner Hudson County Prep High School prepared a sophisticated taste of Smoked Salmon with a Risotto Cake and Cilantro Aoli, and the Morris County School of Technology prepared a fresh and tasty Aisan Chicken Slaw served in a crispy wonton cup.

Mercer County Technical Schools celebrated the county’s Revolutionary War heritage with a display of “edible” paintings depicting historical events and they took top honors from the NJAC judges for their offering featuring historical ingredients: Confit of Canvas Back Duck served on a stout rye cracker with blueberry conserve.

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