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Kent State Chefs Explore Sustainability at Culinary Conference, Win Silver Medal in Cooking Competition

Posted Aug. 11, 2014
enter photo description
Kent State University chefs (from left to right) Michael
, Christian Booher, Andrew Eith and Tracy
attended the 20th Annual Chef Culinary
Conference at the University of Massachusetts
Amherst. At the conference, they put their culinary
skills to work in the American Culinary Federation
Competition where they placed second.

(Photo credit: Chef Culinary Conference website)

Six chefs from Kent State University’s Dining Services attended the 20th Annual Chef Culinary Conference at the University of Massachusetts Amherst to learn about implementing sustainability and nutrition into dining programs.

“The main message of the conference was that sustainability is here to stay and that doing something toward it is better than doing nothing at all,” says Michael Fiala, executive chef at Kent State.

This will be the second year that the chefs have attended the conference and the first time they have competed in the American Culinary Federation (ACF) Competition, which is classified as a Category W Market Basket Competition for teams of four.

During the competition, the teams were given three hours to cook an appetizer, entrée, dessert and buffet platter using supplied ingredients or whatever else they may have needed. The Kent State team won the silver medal.

“We went from having the mindset of winning to the mindset that we’re going to just make it into a learning experience,” says Fiala. “Our score for the teamwork side of things really elevated us in the competition, and we learned that if we work together, things will work out okay.”

Attendees of the conference learned how to choose foods that are farmed and raised ethically. They also learned about implementing foods that are not commonly used, the fishing industry and the Real Food Challenge, which is an organization that attempts to have campus dining services use 20 percent of locally grown,  sustainably grown, humanly raised or community-based foods into their campus dining program.

Fiala says that he would like to get in touch with students interested in sustainability and other departments that work with it to see how dining services can help with that effort on the Kent Campus.

“Overall, it was an awesome opportunity,” says Fiala. “We want to make Kent State Dining Services better and to develop it into one of the reasons people come to Kent State. We just want to be better and make sure we are offering something for everyone on the nutritional, environmental and economic side of things.”

For more information about Kent State’s Dining Services, visit

For more information about the Chef Culinary Conference, visit

For more information about the Real Food Challenge, visit