The culinary industry is fast-paced and constantly growing, which is why our Professional Culinary Arts curriculum continues to evolve, preparing students for today’s kitchens and culinary scene. Whether it’s harnessing the wave of culinary technology—with lessons on sous-vide, low-temperature cooking, hydrocolloids and more—or connecting your culinary techniques to the beginning of the food chain—embracing sustainability and seasonality through our Farm-to-Table extension, students learn the techniques that today’s chefs need to know.
That is why we were so excited to launch a new addition to Level 4 of our Professional Culinary Arts program earlier this year—The Mystery Basket Challenge! On the final day of their 400 hours at ICC, and prior to going on their externships, students are given 4 secret ingredients and are tasked with creating an original dish from scratch. In only 2 hours, they’ll be asked to conceptualize, plan, cook, plate and present their dish to a panel of judges. The challenge allows student’s to flex their creative muscles and combine the culinary and plating techniques learned with the skills they’ve developed for consistency in flavor, timing and presentation.
Leland Clark, Vice President of Student Affairs, remarked that the “Mystery Basket Challenge was designed as a culmination of students’ four levels of progressively complex cooking, and as an exhilarating final activity before they begin their professional externships. We are always excited to see the amazing creativity and skill on display in each group!” With a few classes now having completed the Mystery Basket Challenge, we’ve seen great use of the secret ingredients in imaginative applications like a savory brittle, scallion and kale pancakes and even a pork pho with handmade noodles!
Plus, with a very generous donation from Crooked Brook and the Mohawk Valley Trading Company, 1st and 2nd place winners walk away with prizes—like a beautifully crafted apron or a giant jar of organic maple syrup—after the challenge. Crooked Brook has designed and manufactured chef coats and aprons for the world’s most distinguished and discerning chefs since 1989. The Mohawk Valley Trading Company offers the highest quality organic, unprocessed natural products they can produce such as maple syrup, maple sugar, raw honey and beeswax candles.
Below, check out some of the images from our recent Mystery Basket Challenges and get inspired for your future challenge in Level 4 of the Professional Culinary Arts program!