By: Thomas Griffiths, Executive Chef and Vice President of Campbell’s Culinary and Baking Institute
Known as an island full of rich flavors and spicy tropical tastes, Puerto Rico was the perfect beach backdrop for this year’s Research Chefs Association (RCA) annual conference. The team from Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute won top honors with Puerto Rican-inspired dishes using traditional local flavors.
The RCA conference is several days of exciting demos, workshops and lectures — all geared toward inspiring and educating research chefs, food scientists, product developers and culinologists.
Highlight of the conference is a challenging cooking competition
Chef teams compete to prepare eight portions of the same exact dish, serving four portions from the range and freezing and then cooking four of the entrees to serve to judges.
Campbell’s Chef Greg Boggs and Senior Technologist Jesse Fellows of Campbell’s R&D team trained together for months to create and master the challenge of preparing, brining and cooking bone-in pork loin two ways.
Each team has only two hours to completely cook the eight plates of pork loin plus flash freezing and defrosting the frozen entrée for tasting. On top of it all, the theme was Puerto Rican-inspired food, so each part of the dish had to feature the flavors of the island.
Their menu included mojo criollo marinated grilled pork chop with a pineapple chutney, arroz con gandules (rice and pigeon peas), pork of piononos (stuffed sweet plantains), sautéed okra and fricasé sauce. As they say, practice doesn’t make perfect … perfect practice makes perfect.
On the day of the competition, each team worked to create the perfect dish and score the top spot. With only 20 seconds to go, Jesse put the finishing touches on the team’s meal and waited for the results.
Competition was fierce between the three teams and they created some delicious meals, but in the end, Team Campbell won top prize.
Cheers to Chef Greg and Jesse for winning first place and representing Campbell!