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Culinary Student Wins ‘Golden’ Opportunity to Compete in Vegas

Jessica N. Felton, a culinary arts and systems major from State College, has won the right to represent Pennsylvania College of Technology at this year’s World Food Championships in Las Vegas. She was among six School of Business & Hospitality students who vied Monday night for a “Golden Ticket” to compete in the Nov. 12-18 event. The entry was granted by award-winning chef and television host Ben Vaughn, who visited campus earlier this month; the college will pay airfare and lodging. Other participants in the on-campus competition were culinary arts and systems majors Christopher S. Kasler, of Kendall Park, New Jersey; Zachary A. Knol, of Annville; and Victoria L. Zablocky, of Jersey Shore; and baking and pastry arts students Katlyn J. Hackling, of Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, and Victoria L. Kostecki, of Center Valley. Two flights of students, whose dishes were timed from prep to plate, were judged by faculty members under WFC guidelines and the school’s standards for sanitation and safety. Scores were tabulated in a variety of categories covering execution, appearance and taste, and the winner was announced at noon Tuesday in Le Jeune Chef Restaurant.

– Photos by Tom Wilson, writer/editor-PCToday and Jennifer A. Cline, writer/editor-One College Avenue

Jessica N. Felton holds her "Golden Ticket," seconds after Gerri F. Luke, interim dean of business and hospitality, and Chef Paul E. Mach, assistant professor of hospitality management/culinary arts, delivered the surprising news in her Cakes and Decorations class.
Jessica N. Felton holds her “Golden Ticket,” seconds after Gerri F. Luke, interim dean of business and hospitality, and Chef Paul E. Mach, assistant professor of hospitality management/culinary arts, delivered the surprising news in her Cakes and Decorations class.

Christopher S. Kasler tends a saute pan while preparing ...
Christopher S. Kasler tends a saute pan while preparing …

... rigatoni with asparagus, snow peas and truffle oil.
… rigatoni with asparagus, snow peas and truffle oil.

Reviewing their judging criteria during the students' preparatory time are (from left) Chefs Mary G. Trometter, assistant professor of hospitality management/culinary arts; Mach; and Charles R. Niedermyer, instructor of baking and pastry arts/culinary arts.
Reviewing their judging criteria during the students’ preparatory time are (from left) Chefs Mary G. Trometter, assistant professor of hospitality management/culinary arts; Mach; and Charles R. Niedermyer, instructor of baking and pastry arts/culinary arts.

Katlyn J. Hackling slices apples ...
Katlyn J. Hackling slices apples …

... for a warm spice cake that included streudel crumbles, balled mango and toasted walnuts.
… for a warm spice cake that included streudel crumbles, balled mango and toasted walnuts.

Zachary A. Knol weighs out portions for a "black and blue burger"...
Zachary A. Knol weighs out portions for a “black and blue burger”…

... that featured bleu cheese, carmelized onions, romaine lettuce, sliced tomato and chipotle mayonnaise.
… that featured bleu cheese, carmelized onions, romaine lettuce, sliced tomato and chipotle mayonnaise.

As the clock ticks down, a student's checklist keeps her on task and on time.
As the clock ticks down, a student’s checklist keeps her on task and on time.

Victoria L. Zablocky squeezes oranges ...
Victoria L. Zablocky squeezes oranges …

... for a berry-infused, balsamic-glazed salmon, served on a ciabatta with crispy prosciutto, Bibb lettuce, yellow tomato, panko-fried goat cheese and mint pesto.
… for a berry-infused, balsamic-glazed salmon, served on a ciabatta with crispy prosciutto, Bibb lettuce, yellow tomato, panko-fried goat cheese and mint pesto.

Jessica N. Felton gathers the tastes that will comprise ...
Jessica N. Felton gathers the tastes and textures that comprise …

... her prize-winning recipe: a creamy, tomato-y, buttery dish of stone-ground grits and poached shrimp.
… her prize-winning recipe: a creamy, tomato-y, buttery dish of stone-ground grits and poached shrimp.

Inspiring quotes help a competitor keep her cool – and her eye on the prize.
Inspiring quotes help a competitor keep her cool – and her eye on the prize.

Victoria L. Kostecki docks the crust ...
Victoria L. Kostecki docks the crust …

... for a chocolate bourbon pecan tart.
… for a chocolate bourbon pecan tart.