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Chefs Strike Gold at ARAMARK Higher Education Culinary Excellence Competition

Finalists Awarded American Culinary Federation Medals

PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 130 ARAMARK chefs from colleges, universities, and conference centers across North America competed in the 2012 ARAMARK Culinary Excellence competition, which culminated at the National Competition in Orlando, Florida. The Southeast Region received the highest honor and Chef Pinky Varghese (Elon University), Chef Paul Calice (University of North CarolinaChapel Hill) and Chef Jordan Rogers (Salem Academy) were presented with the coveted Copper Pot and gold medal from the American Culinary Federation (ACF), the largest professional chefs association in North America. 

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The ACE Competition featured the 30 final chefs from 18 regional competitions, who hail from colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada.  The chefs were divided into 10 three-member teams and given 30 minutes to create a menu, and three hours to fully execute an appetizer, entree and dessert that included items from a mystery basket crafted from local Orlando ingredients.

Certified Master Chefs from the American Culinary Federation (ACF) judged the competition and scored the finalists on a number of elements including culinary skill, flavor, plate presentation, use of ingredients and food safety. The Southeast Region's winning meal included an appetizer of fried clam on the half shell with pan seared tilapia and a zucchini vegetable roll; an entree of roast chicken breast with sauteed Spinach, and soy stained tomato and garlic mashed potatoes; and a ginger panna cotta, citrus pastry and lemon grass truffle dessert. 

"We are extremely proud of the chefs for their outstanding display of culinary expertise and for their competitive spirit," said David Reusche, ARAMARK Higher Education's National Director of Catering. "In addition to showcasing their talents and creativity, the chefs were able to earn continuing education or recertification credits from the American Culinary Federation."

The 2012 ARAMARK Culinary Excellence Winners are:

ACE Copper Pot Winner and Gold Medal: Southeast Region
     Pinky Varghese – Elon University
     Paul Calice – University of North CarolinaChapel Hill
     Jordan Rogers – Salem Academy

ACE Silver Medal: Northeast Region 
     Darren Alvaro – College of St. Rose
     Zack Kestler – Brandeis University
     Jerry Reveron – The Taft School

ACE Bronze Medal: East Region
     Ed Nagy – New York University
     John Peralta – New York University
     Jesse Reeves – Bloomsburg University

In addition to the ACE awards, the American Culinary Federation presented medals to all finalists, including:

ACF Gold Medals: Southeast and Northeast

ACF Silver Medals: Canada; Conference Centers; East; Mid-Atlantic; Midwest; South; Southwest; and West.

The ARAMARK Culinary Excellence Program, which began in 2003, recognizes and rewards outstanding chefs throughout ARAMARK-managed accounts and provides them with the opportunity to share their culinary expertise in a competitive environment.

About ARAMARK Higher Education
ARAMARK Higher Education is dedicated to excellence in dining, facility, conference center, and stadium and arena services. ARAMARK enhances the living and learning experience and environment for more than 600 colleges and universities throughout North America.  For more information and a list of our services, visit

ARAMARK is a leader in professional services, providing award-winning food servicesfacilities management, and uniform and career apparel to health care institutionsuniversities and school districtsstadiums and arenas, and  businesses  around the world. The company is recognized as one of the "World's Most Ethical Companies" by the Ethisphere Institute, one of the "World's Most Admired Companies" by FORTUNE magazine and one of America's Largest Private Companies by both FORTUNE and Forbes magazines. ARAMARK seeks to responsibly address issues that matter to its clients, customers, employees and communities by focusing on employee advocacy, environmental stewardship, health and wellness, and community involvement. Headquartered in Philadelphia, ARAMARK has approximately 250,000 employees serving clients in 22 countries. Learn more at


Karen Cutler

Kelly Banaszak



[email protected] 

[email protected]


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