Cooking to win, and they earn top medals

Yale Dining chefs won top honors at the American Culinary Federation (ACF)’s national conference, held in Las Vegas July 21-25.

Yale Catering executive chef Dave Kuzma and third cook Cyril Ortigosa-Liaz brought home a silver medal prize at the national championship of the Collegiate Dining Challenge, which was co-sponsored by the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS).

Yale’s two-person team was selected from a range of universities as one of six teams to take part. Kuzma and Ortigosa-Liaz designed a three-course menu, which featured seared salmon filet with English pea purée and Bay beets; mushroom-stuffed breast of chicken with summer vegetables and caponata; and tres leches at Yale.

The dishes were prepared under the watchful eyes of four ACF-certified judges within two-and-a-half-hours.

The ACF also awarded Ronald DeSantis, director of culinary excellence and quality assurance at Yale Dining, a Cutting Edge Award for his innovative work and commitment to quality. Other recipients this year included Yale alumnus Ming Tsai, executive chef of Blue Ginger, and Donald Miller, executive chef for University of Notre Dame Food Services.

Additionally, Ortigosa-Liaz received a national gold medal honor for “Flavors of the Mediterranean — A Riviana Rice Competition,” for his rice-based creation — stuffed breast of chicken with farrosotto.

ACF is a culinary federation of professional chefs and cooks founded in 1929. It has approximately 20,000 members from across the spectrum of culinary establishments.

This award — along with recent awards from NACUFS — recognizes Yale Dining for the care and quality of the overall operation, as well as the creative innovation of the culinary offerings.

“These achievements are a testament to Yale Dining’s commitment to excellence in hospitality,” says DeSantis. “Yale Dining’s team members are committed to providing innovative approaches to food and service so that our students have a memorable dining experience everyday.” 

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