Team of Williams College chefs honored in competition


WILLIAMSTOWN -- A team of silver medalists served dinner to about 700 Williams College students on Tuesday.

On the menu was pan-seared duck breast with sautéed kale; amaranth, apricot, and pecan pawlents; tri-color baby carrots; and a glaze combining bosc pears, blood oranges and cranberries. For an appetizer, there was a wild mushroom trio with pork belly bacon, and sweet potato soup sprinkled with king crab meat.

The team of four chefs, all of them full-time professionals at Williams College, had just returned with silver medals from the third annual Skidmore College American Culinary Federation sanctioned competition.

The Williams College food service operation runs from 3:30 a.m. to 3 a.m. every day. The baking crew of four come in at 3:30 a.m. to make 100 pounds of bread, 140 pounds of pizza dough, not to mention all the cookies, cakes and pies. Then, for the rest of the day, crews come in to prep and cook breakfast, lunch, dinner and late-night snacks.

All together, a crew of 140 people serves 1,200 to 1,800 meals to students, faculty, staff and guests daily.

The four-man team -- Jerry Byers, associate general manager and chef, and chefs Miguel Gutierrez, Jim Butler and Michael Militello -- competed against nine other teams.

Among them were teams from two restaurants, one country club and six other schools,

The judges, who are all master chefs, provide the ingredients, and the teams have one hour to devise a four-course menu. The next day, they each prepare their dishes, having only four Bunsen burners to cook on, for the judging.

The Williams College team came back with medals in silver and bronze.

"It was very stressful, and it was very interesting," Byers said. "It was a tense competition -- very high level."

So on Tuesday, the chefs and the rest of the kitchen crew decided to recreate their award-wining menu for the students' Tuesday night dinner.

"We thought it would be nice for them to get an idea what the skill level is of the people who cook for them every day," Byers said. "They don't always get to see that."

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