The second annual Quick Fire Grill Challenge pitted three Moraine Park Technical College Culinary Arts students against each other during the Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership’s Fondue Fest event on Sept. 12.
“Quite frankly, they all did us proud,” said James Simmers, Moraine Park Culinary Arts program instructor, of students Samantha Haushalter and Jacob Bohlman of Fond du Lac and Mike McCue of Sheboygan Falls.
Haushalter won the competition with her interpretation of shrimp tacos, consisting of grilled shrimp and mango skewers marinated in lime juice and chardonnay with roasted red and yellow peppers, sautéed onions and garlic, and fresh avocado, served on a grilled soft shell.
The competition was sponsored by K107.1 FM Radio and KFIZ AM 1450; Brian Carter of Fond du Lac Seafood LLC, who provided the wild American shrimp; and Sara Cujak of Cujak’s Wine Market & Wine Bar LLC, who contributed wine and Antonio’s Hoji-Picudo Olive Oil. Judges included Carter, Cujak, Liz Engh of The Reporter and guest judge Jim Dunphy. Also present was Mark Vaccaro, the executive chef and restaurant manager at the Oshkosh Country Club.
"KFIZ and K107.1 were thrilled to be part of this year's Quick Fire Grill Challenge during Fondue Fest,” said Anne Schaefer, operations manager for the radio stations. “It's great to see the Moraine Park culinary students compete in the challenge – they were so passionate about cooking, and you could taste it!"
Haushalter said she chose shrimp tacos to bring out lots of flavors and textures, from sweet and salty to crunchy and creamy. “All in all, I thought that the competition was a lot of fun and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she said.
Bohlman prepared a marinated and grilled, paprika-shrimp with a sweet red pepper sauce served on top of a vegetable couscous. The grilled vegetables with the pepper sauce – yellow, red and brown colors – reminded Bohlman of fall in Wisconsin, which is what he went for when he chose his final ingredients and presentation.
“I think we all had a blast in the competition,” said Bohlman. “It was a new experience having so many people watching me cook, but I loved having the feedback.”
Mike McCue of Sheboygan Falls was the third competitor in the Quick Fire challenge.
“How wonderful it was again to have talented students from the best culinary program around come here to really showcase our products,” said Brian Carter of Fond du Lac Seafood. “I think the competition really increased this year, which makes it fun as well as tasty. The skills shown really do speak to the great job the instructors do at Moraine Park of preparing them for real working kitchens and, of course, our taste buds!”
“Samantha's sauce was amazing, Jacob's couscous was fabulous, and Mike had a great presentation,” said Sara Cujak of Cujak’s Wine Market.
For more information about Moraine Park’s Culinary Arts program, visit www.morainepark.edu and click on Academics.