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Cornell culinary team earns Gold Medal at 30th annual Chef Culinary Conference at UMass

A team of culinary staff members from Cornell Dining were contestants at the 30th annual Chef Culinary Competition at UMass Amherst the week of June 2nd, featuring a Tournament of Champions competition hosted by celebrity Chef Jet Tila, and an ACF-sanctioned Market Basket Competition in which the team was awarded a Gold Medal!

Cornell Dining's team included Ben Janowski, Cassandra Yazell, Andre Crawley, and Adam June, coached by Chefs Josh Holden, Chloe Greenhalgh, Maurice Choo, and Ambarish Lulay.

Four smiling people wearing chef jackets, medals and ribbons around their neck, and holding up certificiates
Cornell's Ben Janowski, Andre Crawley, Adam June, and Cassandra Yazell showing off their Gold Medals!

Early in the week, the team missed first place in the Tournament of Champions competition -- modeled on the Food Network show and hosted by Chef Jet Tila -- by just one point.

Two smiling people, one wearing a white chef jacket and a Cornell Dining cap, and the other wearing black.
Andre with Chef Jet Tila.

In the Market Basket Competition that took place on Friday, Chef Josh says the team was able to "pump out some incredibly beautiful plates" after overcoming a few issues during the competition. The judges said the meals tasted "incredibly delicious," and offered some feedback on how to improve for the future.

Two people wearing chef coats, aprons, and Cornell Dining caps working at a culinary competition workstation
Andre and Cassandra work on the Market Basket Competition.

Chef Ambarish says the team was required to prepare a three-course menu with appetizer, entrée, and dessert for four, and a buffet platter for ten servings plus a plated serving for the judges, over a period of three hours for cooking time plus a 15 minute plating window, using a mystery basket of ingredients they received on Thursday. Friday's award ceremony saw Cornell presented a Gold Medal, with the second highest score of 90.4.

The mystery basket required the competitors to use at least three of five proteins that included hanger steak, whole steelhead trout, whole lobsters, firm organic tofu, and tempeh; as well as Japanese sweet potatoes, tiara rice, dried chick peas, Chinese broccoli, parsnips, fresh red Russian kale, local vine-ripened tomatoes, dragon carrots, dried morel mushrooms, fresh Thai basil, tarragon, turmeric, Greek honey, polenta, fresh pomegranates, honey mangos, and pistachios. The teams had the option to request more of any item or use just a portion of any item, but had to incorporate all of them in at least one of the dishes of their menus.

Chefs Adam June and Benjamin Janowsky at a workstation with food and utensils
Adam and Ben in the Tournament of Champions competition on Monday.

Cornell's team presented a menu that included Lobster Tortelloni, butter poached lobster with Japanese sweet potato purée, tarragon oil, and crispy chick peas; Mushroom Dusted Seared Hanger Steak featuring parsnip purée, glazed Chinese broccoli, crispy polenta cakes, and honey-pomegranate; and Mango-Crange Cremoux, steamed dragon carrot cake with berry coulis and pistachio crumble.

Plates of food on a table with a sign displaying a menu
The Cornell Dining team's plated dishes in the Market Basket Competition.

The judges proclaimed the three dishes "excellent, excellent, excellent." Congratulations to the Cornell Dining team!

About Cornell Dining

Cornell Dining is consistently ranked in the Princeton Review's top ten for best campus food among all colleges and universities in the country! That high rating comes from customer surveys, and reflects Cornell Dining's commitment to serving high-quality foods that are healthy and creatively prepared with genuine care for a diverse community. Cornell Dining operates about 30 on-campus eateries -- which include residential dining rooms, cafés, coffeehouses, food courts, and convenience stores -- and serves more than 23,000 meals a day to members of the Cornell community. For more information, visit