CIV Gets a Taste of Celebrity

By: Kimberly White, CIV Honors Graduate, June 2011

On a rainy, unseasonably cool Sunday in September, two Italian reality television personalities brought a little sunshine to Virginia Beach. Top Chef fan favorite, Fabio Viviani and Real Housewives of New Jersey’s Teresa Giudice along with Culinary Institute of Virginia Chef Instructor, Dedra Blount headlined as the finale attraction during the Mediterranean Festival at the Virginia Beach oceanfront. The three day event began on Friday, September 16, was a celebration of Greek and Italian cuisine, music and culture.

The show began with a flawless cooking demo by Chef Dedra Blount, who effortlessly produced a beautiful dish of Quinoa Risotto and Veal Chops over a beautiful Pear Sauce with the assistance of CIV student Jeanine McDougald. CIV Academic Director, Chef Steve Sadowski was also on hand to demonstrate the proper technique for fabricating veal chops.

Teresa Giudice, known for her somewhat explosive temper, eclectic style, feuding family, legal woes, four rambunctious daughters, and New York Times bestselling cookbooks, Skinny Italian and Fabulicious, was next to take the stage. Teresa demonstrated how to make Devil Shrimp with Angel Hair Pasta which is one of the recipes featured in her most recent cookbook. As she cooked, she fielded questions from the audience. Although Teresa seemed a little uncomfortable with the actual cooking portion of the demo, she wooed the audience with her candor, vivaciousness and down-to-earth quality that seems to be sincerely who she is.

Culinary team with Fabio Viviani of Top Chef and Teresa Giudice of Real Housewives of New Jersey

The icing on the proverbial cake in the event was Fabio Viviani, who came to the stage amid cheers and cat calls from screaming fans. Completely comfortable and commanding on stage, Fabio had the cameraman come right up to the demo table so that every step of his presentation could be seen clearly and up close by the audience. Fabio was assisted by CIV student, Jackie Beau. As Fabio began to make his famous Potato Gnocchi dish, he regaled the audience with funny antidotes and his philosophy about cooking and how Italians use very simple, fresh ingredients. He kept the audience completely entertained and engaged while giving cooking instructions.  After producing a pillowy light Gnocchi that he then finished in vibrant roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce, he had every person in the audience come up to the stage to try one. Fabio’s hilarious stories about growing up in an Italian family were endearing and you totally felt how sincere and passionate he is about cooking and sharing his love of food with his family, friends and fans.

 

MCI and CIV Volunteer to Help the Foodbank

In Hampton Roads and Richmond, representatives of ECPI University are volunteering their time in support of the Foodbank. The

Culinary volunteers chop onions and peppers for lasagna.

Foodbank works to provide solutions to hunger and certain consequences of poverty in the community by promoting food recovery by means of acquiring and distributing food, clothing, and related products to those in crisis.

The Culinary Institute of Virginia has been involved since 2007 in the Hampton Roads area. Chef Patrick Kearney has been leading student volunteers to prepare meals as a part of the “Kids Café.” He speculates that in one year his team has prepared more than 72,000 meals. Ten to 15 culinary students volunteer once a month to prepare the donated food that varies on each occasion. “Students use the opportunity to gain experience, use skills and interact with other students and teachers,” said Chef Kearney. “I tell the students the best way to impact the community is to give their time.”

Culinary student, Matt Davis feels, “It is a good cause and great practice. It is also a great way to build a stronger bond with other students and teachers.” Students usually commit to four hours of volunteer time on each occasion; however, Chef Kearney once had to prepare 600 pounds of turkey at Thanksgiving which took the team more than eight hours.

Chef Kearney explains preparation activities to students.

Omar Gafford is the Director of Healthcare Administration with MCI in Richmond, Virginia. He wanted to provide an opportunity for staff and students to interact with each other in an environment outside of the school. Instructors launched the Foodbank initiative on April 15 in the community kitchen. The community kitchen is a full production kitchen where volunteers prepare and package over 3,500 meals for various child and senior programs. Students involved in MEDIC (Medical Students of ECPI University, Development, Involvement, Community organizations) will assist in the Meals on Wheels.

From left to right, front row: Stephanie White, Nijah Chinn-Gonsalves, Tresa Jordan, Diana Sams, and Monika Haskins. Back row: Thomas Holland, Omar Gafford, Michael Serrate and John Craig.

 

An Evening of Firsts

Graduates: Dena Horne, Barbara Lee McDonald, Andrea L. Tomlinson

It was an evening of “firsts” that made for a very special graduation for the Culinary Institute of Virginia. On June 24, 180 students graduated in a ceremony at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, Virginia. It was the largest class to date and 50 percent larger than the class of 2010.

The evening also marked the first graduates of the school’s Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Food Service Management.

Graduates: Grant Loy, Donald Lee, Ryan Travis

One of those graduates was Yanina Yearwood, who originally graduated from CIV in Culinary Arts in 2009, and was the first to enroll and graduate from the Bachelor’s program. Yanina told guests of the ceremony how she had once told her son she wanted to be a chef when he asked her “what do you want to be when you grow up mom?” She pursued her dream and education while working full-time in the United States Navy and raising her son. Two years ago she opened her own personal chef and catering business, Younique Treats, LLC, which has grown more than sixty percent over the last year. “CIV gave me the confidence and skills,” said Yanina in her graduate remarks about starting her own business.

Behind the scenes food preparation at CIV graduation

Graduates also spent the week prior preparing food for their own graduation event. Working out of 11 kitchens, they prepared everything from roast turkeys to salmon salad for more than 1,700 guests and students. “What a better way to teach and model what the business is about than by catering your own event,” said Stephen Perkins, Culinary Institute of Virginia instructor.

Student volunteer, Robert Swann and Steve Nahra of CIV’s Career Services prepare for the after-ceremony celebration

CIV Wins for Creativity at Charity Food Event

Competing among 34 of Hampton Road’s food establishments, the Culinary Institute of Virginia, proudly walked away with the “Most Creative Dish Award.” The event on March 29 was the 22nd Annual Taste of Hampton Roads to benefit the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia. The yearly event helps provide money for the distribution of more than 382,000 meals to help feed children, working families and senior citizens throughout Southeastern Virginia.

CIV’s culinary team was led by Chef Instructors Greg Burroughs, Kelly DeMarchena, Calise Fachko, and Jonathan Highfield. The judging panel consisted of 10 culinary professionals, including food writers, culinary educators and successful restaurateurs.

From left to right: Chef Greg Burroughs, Chef Kelly Demarchena, Chef Jonathan Highfield, and Chef Calise Fachko

The culinary team also consisted of student volunteers who helped prepare the four dishes enjoyed by the hungry crowd of nearly 1,000 guests. The dishes were:

•           Jerked Chicken with Crispy Ginger Plantains and Candied Jalapenos
•           Chilled Grilled Mojito Shrimp with Fire Roasted Salsa, and a Orange-Mint Foam
•           Coconut Cream, Chocolate Cake and Cashew Crunch Trifle
•           Mango Bavarian Cream ”tini” with a Pomegranate Gelee and Cookie Corkscrew

Food Service Manager Instructor, Howard Gevertz, worked with students just before the event to make sure the booth looked as good as the food tasted.