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Local Chefs Dish Out Tasty Treats for Fifth Annual Culinary Benefit

11/13/18


Pastry Arts Student Omer Kilickaya serves his scholarship winning Pumpkin Cheesecake alongside Culinary Instructor Frank Benowitz.

From left to right are HRIM Coordinator Doug Fee, Chef Anne Lumberger's sister, Martha Hostetter, Chef Lumberger's husband, David Lumberger, Chef Shari Widmayer's husband Don Widmayer, Culinary Instructor Frank Benowitz and scholarship winner Omer Kilickaya.

WEST WINDSOR – Students of Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) program tickled the taste buds of a sellout crowd at the college’s Fifth Annual Culinary Tasting Benefit on Nov. 7. Students, serving alongside area chefs from nearly 20 local restaurants and establishments, presented visitors with dinner and dessert, with dishes ranging from Seafood Boudin and Mini Cubanos to rainbow cookies and bananas foster.

The night’s efforts went to supporting the Chef Anne Lumberger and Chef Shari Widmayer Pastry Arts Memorial Scholarship. Established in 2014 by MCCC faculty members Frank Benowitz and Doug Fee, this year's fundraiser generated over $6,000 for students.

In addition to the variety of food, visitors also got to bid on the Silent Auction and Tricky Tray items, which included certificates to local eateries, a hotel stay, and even a Washington Redskins Jersey signed by cornerback Josh Norman and donated by Erika Donato, a program alumna and current Redskins cheerleading captain.

Benowitz was proud of the event, both in terms of the lineup of restaurants and the overwhelmingly positive visitor feedback. He noted that at the price of just “60 cents a taste,” visitors could enjoy diverse, high-quality offerings.

His positivity shone throughout the tasting, as there were happy faces and full bellies aplenty. In addition to dishes prepared by students in MCCC’s baking and garde manger courses, the college also boasted student chefs from the American Regional and Falltalian college restaurants, as well as the Hospitality Club.

Area restaurants/food service companies and their specialty dishes included: Blend/Brothers Pizza (wood-burning oven pizza); Fenwick Hospitality Group (Escargo Vol-au-Vent and Vegetarian Tarte Flambé; Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions); Gingered Peach (Pumpkin Cupcake, Tiramisu Shooter & Apple Crisp); Jersey Girl Café (Loaded Hummus & Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas); Mercer County Technical Schools (Mini Cubanos with Mojo Mustard); Palace of Asia (Chicken Tikka Masala, Basmati Rice & Naan); Wegmans (Deluxe Sushi Assortment and Seasonal Pumpkin Bars); Rat’s (Duck Confit Roulade, Apple Brown Butter Gateaux & Chocolate Rats); Small World Coffee (Crispy Hippie, Love Blend & Decaf House Blend); Stone Terrace by John Henry’s (Lobster Mac n’ Cheese & Boxer Salad); TerraMomo Bread Company (Assortment of Breads); The Yankee Doodle Tap Room & The Nassau Inn, Princeton (Shrimp & Crawfish Etouffee) and Trattoria Procaccini (Mama’s Meatballs).

As for the offerings from MCCC students, there were Madeleines, Rainbow Cookies, Whole Cold-Prepared Salmon, Seafood Boudin, Headcheese and Bananas Foster.

Also among the desserts served was a Pumpkin Cheesecake, by current pastry arts student Omer Kilickaya. The seasonally inspired creation earned him the first place, $1,000 scholarship. MCCC students Luc Dor and Carmelia Smith took home the second and third place scholarships, while Anna Simon took home the inaugural $500 scholarship in memory of Art Pittius, an alumnus of the college’s HRIM program.

At the evening’s end, Benowitz called the gathering a complete success. “As with anything in life, the more you do it, the better it gets.”

Though this year’s tasting has come to an end, students are still serving up a feast at the American Regional and Falltalian restaurants. Details, menus and ticket information can be found on the HRIM site.

HRIM Website

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