Fondue Fest is downtown Fond du Lac’s largest event of the year – a celebration of family, community, culture and, of course, fondue. So just what does it take to feed a hungry crowd of nearly 25,000 fest-goers? For starters, you’ll need 120 pounds of Wisconsin cheese and more than 80 pounds of chocolate. Mix in some talented culinary arts instructors and students from Moraine Park Technical College, and you’ve got yourself a feast fit for thousands. Fondue Fest was held Saturday, Sept. 10.
Moraine Park culinary arts instructors and students started planning for their role in providing the cheese and chocolate fondue about one year before the annual festival. A schedule was created for the week of Fondue Fest to produce all the cookies, cake, bread and fruit needed for dipping.
Tom Endejan, culinary arts instructor, oversaw production of the cake, brownie and cookie portions. A total of 2,100 portions was prepared for the fest, ready to be adorned in chocolate fondue. Fresh fruit pieces were served with the chocolate fondue. About 300 loaves of bread were baked to complement the special cheddar cheese blend, donated by Grande Cheese Company.
Nancy Witkowski, executive assistant to the president and manager of community relations at Grande Cheese, is very pleased with the partnership between Grande and Moraine Park. “We appreciate how well Moraine Park culinary students and faculty handle our products,” said Witkowski. “Fondue Fest allows both Moraine Park and Grande Cheese to display their efforts to the community through a combination of quality products and production.”
James Simmers, Moraine Park culinary arts instructor, explained the process of making the fondue. “The cheese fondue starts off as a cream base, and we add paprika, garlic, onion and let it boil. We then remove it from the heat and add cheddar and mozzarella cheeses. Removing the cream from the heat ensures that the cheese does not curdle,” Simmers added.
Making chocolate fondue is a similar process, but the only ingredients involved are butter, chocolate, cream and vanilla. Simmers said that chocolate is mixed in only after they boil and cool the butter, cream and vanilla to avoid curdling, similar to the cheese fondue process.
Putting the “fondue” in Fondue Fest is something Moraine Park culinary arts instructors and students look forward to each year, treasuring the teaching and learning experience Fondue Fest yields. “The students were able to hone their culinary skills, and there was a lot of teaching going on,” said Endejan.
For more information on Moraine Park’s Culinary Arts program, visit morainepark.edu/programs.