On June 5 Dietetic Interns for Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University competed against one another in a cooking competition as the internship program came to an end. Lorraine Danowski, Associate Director of the Dietetic Internship, modeled the competition after the popular Food Network TV series “Chopped,” and partnered with the University Hospital foodservice staff to host the competition in its kitchen.
“This is our review week for the internship program, and we go over everything to prepare for the registration exam. To take a break from all of that, we decided to do something a little more fun,” Danowski said.
Kathleen Logsdon Carrozza, Assistant Director of Food and Retail Services, coordinated the Chopped cooking competition with Danowski to get the students fired up for this fast-paced kitchen competition. “This is a great team-building activity because the students strategize together, divide their tasks and communicate with each other to exchange ideas about creating menu items that will impress the judges,” explained Carrozza.
Students grabbed their aprons and were then given the course they were to prepare with their teammate. Executive Chef Joseph Cormier helped develop the cooking competition so that each course had surprise ingredients that the students had to incorporate into the dishes they created.
Appetizer: Lamb chops, sunburst squash, Enoki mushrooms and chocolate mint
Entrée: Arctic char, parsnips, black garlic and bamboo rice
Dessert: Corn Chex, honey powder, cherry pie filling, plain Greek yogurt and figs
The interns were given ten minutes to plan and an hour to prepare and plate their meal. Afterwards, judges critiqued the food on the basis of taste, presentation and use of ingredients. The judges were Carrozza and Terrance Lee, General Manager of Retail Operations. The interns were also judged by University Hospital Chefs Courtney Rowehl and Denise Malandrino who were able to offer their expertise to the competitors throughout the competition.
Despite working with new ingredients in an unfamiliar kitchen, the interns managed to create delicious meals and impress the judges with their culinary skills. “I have a lot of respect for chefs everywhere because it’s not an easy job. It’s really hard to be given ingredients and work with all the ingredients to make a cohesive dish,” said Katie Obojkovits ‘19.
Samantha Vallejo ‘19 and Obojkovits won for best appetizer, Meghan Hampton ‘19 and Maria Rengifo ‘19 received accolades for best entrée, and Mikaela Clemente ‘19 and Alanna Downey ‘19 impressed the judges with best dessert.
The students graduated from the program on June 7 but created lasting memories as they wrapped up the year and reflected about their overall experience at Stony Brook. As for plans after graduation, Vallejo said, “I’m going into private practice, that’s where I’m going to start and expand from there. I love cooking, so hopefully where I’m working I’ll do some cooking demos and teaching.”
“The internship as a whole was a great experience, I really had an awesome time. Everyone really went above and beyond the entire nine months that we’ve been here,” said Jeannette Giacinto. “And, I’m really happy to have met all these people, we’re all pretty close, we’re really good friends now. I think I’m very lucky to have landed in this program.”