This summer’s Olympic medal winners are elite, but not alone, earning bragging rights as our hometown champions with an appetite for winning.
Oakland Community College’s Culinary Studies Institute proudly produced its own medalist at the national SkillsUSA culinary arts competition this summer. Budding chef and OCC student Rebecca Deslippe captured a Bronze medal beating out 30+ champion-level contenders – all state-wide victors in their own right.
Deslippe qualified to compete at the national competition by earning a perfect score at the Michigan SkillsUSA state championship earlier this spring.
The national 2016 SkillsUSA Championships drew more than 6,000 students from across the country to compete in 100 skill and leadership contests representing 130 occupational areas. The event was held at the Kentucky Exposition Center and at a nearby hotel, occupying space equivalent to more than 19 football fields.
For Deslippe, the full-day competition encompassed both food preparation and presentation and demonstrated knowledge and skills through the production of a four-course menu. Students were rated on their organization, knife skills, cooking techniques, creative presentation, sanitation food safety techniques, and quality and flavor of their prepared items.
This year’s competition proved to be exceptionally challenging with the purchase of a sub-par base ingredient. “Our greatest challenge was preparing table-side guacamole with rock-hard unripe avocados! We tried a Facebook trick of wrapping them in tinfoil and baking but it didn’t work. We ended up getting a potato peeler and working our skills to get the fruit to release from its seed,” she shared. “It’s nothing any of us would serve in a restaurant but we had to get on with the show and keep moving.”
Recognized for her culinary leadership, Deslippe was the only student medalist invited to also judge the national high school competition the following day. Oakland Community College is host to the local high school competitions each year and Deslippe says she is excited to give back locally with her experience from the national competition.
She credits her success to the personal attention and commitment of OCC’s Culinary Art Institute instructors, Chefs Athena Bolger, Darlene Levinson and Susan Baier who “helped me by coming into school after the semester was over for no other reason than to help and practice with me. They are always there to listen and help us get through. This is their lives.”
For more information on OCC’s culinary program visit their website at oaklandcc.edu/culinary.