Strawberry Battle Crowns Grand Prize Winner
KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – Three Johnson & Wales University students put their skills to the test for a second time in the championship strawberry cook-off competition sponsored by the N.C. Strawberry Project on May 13. Leicel Ros, from Virginia Beach, Va., was crowned the winner and received a $1,000 scholarship award from the N.C. Strawberry Project. The project aims to breed a better North Carolina strawberry and educate JWU students – the chefs-of-tomorrow – about agricultural research and local farmers. It is a joint partnership between N.C. State University’s Plants for Human Health Institute at the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis and Johnson & Wales University. The project received support from the Golden LEAF Foundation.
Each of the three contestants won a preliminary cook-off competition over the past academic year. They received a $500 scholarship award and a spot in this championship cook-off. For the three preliminary competitions, JWU culinary students submitted original recipes that had to feature North Carolina-grown strawberries, and be low in fat and sugar. The recipe also had to be geared toward home cooks and include no more than 10 ingredients with a prep time of less than 30 minutes. Each academic term, culinary faculty selected three recipes, giving those students the chance to compete in the cook-offs. Over the course of the three competitions, more than 140 students submitted unique strawberry recipes.
Ros, who won the spring cook-off with a gluten-free strawberry yogurt tart and yogurt-injected strawberries, competed for the grand prize against Tyler Creech, winner of the fall cook-off, and his strawberry and shrimp ceviche, and Shawn Guffey’s grilled swordfish with strawberry-cucumber salsa that came out on top in the winter cook-off.
The students’ dishes were judged by Dr. Steve Lommel, assistant vice chancellor for research, N.C. State University; Doug Patterson, co-owner of Patterson Farm, a third generation farm in Rowan County which grows 36 acres of strawberries among other produce; and Cassie Parsons, owner and executive chef at Harvest Moon Grille in uptown Charlotte and owner of Grateful Growers Farms in Lincoln County. The winning recipe is featured here.
The N.C. Strawberry Project connects N.C. State plant breeders with the culinary world. The overarching goal is to glean important information from the culinary industry, produce buyers and consumers that the N.C. State strawberry breeding program can use to breed a better North Carolina strawberry and in turn increase the crop’s economic impact.
Leah Chester-Davis, director of communications, Plants for Human Health Institute, 704-250-5406 or email@example.com