Tag Archives: Pulaski Tech

Diamond Chef Prelim 2015 Live Results

31 Mar
Chef Justin Patterson (right) and sous chef Daniel Rogers plating during the competition. The team won the preliminaries and will compete against Marc Guizol in the final on June 2.

Chef Justin Patterson (right) and sous chef Daniel Rogers plating during the competition. The team won the preliminaries and will compete against Marc Guizol in the final on June 2.

Heat 1: Billy Ginocchio of Pulaski Tech vs. Payne Harding of Cache
Basket: Creekstone Farms ribeye, whole redfish, Cervasi peppered, McCormick Mediterranean sea salt, blood orange, rum, chocolate caramel Chex mix

Winner: Harding

Heat 2: Justin Patterson of Southern Gourmasian vs. Angela Nardi of Superior Bath House
Basket: Creekstone Farms brisket, whole Bronzini, Cervasi balsamic glaze, McCormick rubbed sage, heirloom cherry tomato, Boulevard Pale Ale, Butterscotch oatmeal bar

Winner: Patterson

Heat 3: Elliot Jones of YaYa’s vs. Jason Knapp of The Green Leaf Grill
Basket: Creekstone Farms beef tenderloin, grouper sides, Cervasi Spicy procuitto spread, McCormick smoked paprika, dragon fruit, sherry, chocolate chip oatmeal bar

Winner: Jones

Heat 4: Harding vs. Jones
Basket: Creekstone Farms Flank Steak, whole flounder, Cervasi tapenade, McCormick whole caraway seeds, passionfruit, marsala, Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Peanut Bar

Winner: Jones

Heat 5: Patterson vs. Jones
Basket: Creekstone Farms bone-in short loin, cobia sides, Cervasi aged cheddar, McCormick cream of tartar, kumquat, peppermint Schnapps, Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Almond Bar

FINAL WINNER: Justin Patterson of Southern Gourmasian. He will compete against Marc Guizol of Capital Bar & Grill in the June 2 final at Statehouse Convention Center. Patterson won against Jones by just half a point (162 to 162.5).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Diamond Chef growing right along with Arkansas’ food scene

23 Mar

The kind folks at the Arkansas Times (hat tip to fellow foodie and new full-time food editor Michael Roberts) allowed me to do a writeup in the venerable Eat Arkansas blog today, talking a bit about Pulaski Technical College’s Diamond Chef competition.

Diamond Chef is important to our local food scene for lots of reasons, including some you may not know. ::Cough community college funding cough:: I hope you’ll read all about it.

Check it out!

Competitors Announced for 2015 Diamond Chef Arkansas

28 Jan

Diamond ChefArkansas’ biggest culinary competition is gearing up for its 2015 season: Diamond Chef Arkansas.

This annual event is a fundraiser for the Pulaski Technical College Foundation and is tied closely with the college’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, which will host the preliminary competition on Tuesday, March 31, 2 – 8 p.m.

The preliminary event whittles down a large field of contenders in double-elimination style, with a full docket of the state’s best culinary talent (see below). That day’s winner will compete one-on-one against 2014 Diamond Chef winner Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel in the finale, held Tuesday, June 2 at the Statehouse Convention Center.

Competitors in this year’s preliminaries include:

  • Billy Ginocchio, Faculty, PTC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
  • Payne Harding, Executive Chef, Cache
  • Elliot Jones, Executive Chef, YaYa’s Euro Bistro
  • Angela Nardi, Executive Chef, Superior Bath House Brewery & Distillery
  • Justin Patterson, Executive Chef, Southern Gourmasian
  • Jason Knapp, Executive Chef, The Green Leaf Grill

The preliminary event is casual, open to anyone, and free to attend, which I highly recommend if you have even the slightest love for fine food and friendly (albeit heated) competition. Just drop in anytime from 2 to 8 p.m. at the culinary school on March 31.


Diamond Chef Arkansas Preliminary Competition
Pulaski Technical College – Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
13000 Interstate 30, Little Rock
Tuesday, March 31, 2 – 8 p.m.
FREE admission, drop in anytime
(501) 812-2860

Pulaski Tech hosts Food Day to discuss community, health and economy

22 Oct

Food DayPulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute will host a Food Day panel discussion and food demonstrations with chefs, farmers and doctors on Oct. 23 to discuss how food choices affect the community, environment, economy, and public health.

The discussion begins at 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 23, in the Celebrity Chef Theatre at the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Institute, 13000 Interstate 30.

The panelists are Jack Sundell, chef/owner of The Root Café; Jody Hardin, a farmer for St. Joseph Farm and Farm and Food Innovation Center; Dr. Meenakshi Budhraja, gastroenterologist and nutrition educator; and Chef Suzanne Campbell, a culinary instructor at Pulaski Technical College.

The discussion will focus on food safety, health, seasonal cooking, and food preservation. Questions will be accepted from the audience, and the panelists will provide a cooking demonstration using locally grown products.

The event is being held in conjunction with Food Day, a nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food. The event is free and open to the public. To reserve a seat, contact Kendal Haycook (501) 812-2860 or email khaycook@pulaskitech.edu

2014 Diamond Chef Prelims Play by Play

6 Mar
Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech (right) looks on as his sous works on a basket ingredient.

Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech (right) looks on as his sous works on a basket ingredient.

Check here for live updates on today’s 2014 Diamond Chef preliminary competition. Today’s results will choose the competitor who will cook against Chef Dan Capello in the Diamond Chef final event on June 3.

You can drop in anytime today between 2 – 8 p.m. to watch the action yourself. Free appetizers and beverages will be available for the final rounds, 5 – 8 p.m.

Heat 1:
Chef Philippe Ducrot of PTC Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute vs. Chef Coby Smith of Arkansas Heart Hospital.

Basket ingredients:
Eye of round, buttermilk, meyer lemons, parsnips, toasted sesame water crackers, tequila, salted caramel Cracker Jacks, sassafras.

Winner: Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech.

Heat 2:
Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel vs. Chef Elliot Jones of YaYa’s.

Basket ingredients:
Chuck roll, ice cream mix, guava, fava beans, Funyuns, marinated peppers, peppermint Schnapps, lemon verbena powder.

Winner: Chef Marc Guizol of Capital Hotel.

Heat 3:
Chef Jason Morell of Starving Artist vs. Chef Payne Harding of Cache.
Winner will move on to compete against Chef Guizol.

Basket ingredients:
Beef bottom round, cottage cheese, seckel pears, porcini mushrooms, cheddar and jalapeño chips, hearts of palm, Szechuan peppercorns, Gentleman Jack.

Winner: Chef Payne Harding of Cache.

Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech vs. Chef Payne Harding of Cache.

Basket ingredients:
Tri-tip, sour cream, dragon fruit, Belgian endive, mango chutney, cheddar munchies, Gold Bacardi rum, hibiscus powder

Winner: Chef Philippe Ducrot of Pulaski Tech.

Chef Philippe Ducrot vs. Chef Marc Guizol.

Basket ingredients:
Strip loin, plain lowfat yogurt, passionfruit, sunchoke, saffron, instant oatmeal, vodka, cocoa nibs.

Winning dish by Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel.

Winning dish by Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel.

Chef Marc Guizol of the Capital Hotel.

Chef Guizol will compete against last year’s winner, Chef Dan Capello, in the ticketed final event at the Statehouse Convention Center on June 3.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Diamond Chef Prelims Set for March 6 at PTC

19 Feb
Chef Dan Capello, Executive Chef of Chenal Country Club, competing in last year's Diamond Chef preliminaries.

Chef Dan Capello, Executive Chef of Chenal Country Club, competing in last year’s Diamond Chef preliminaries. Capello won last year’s final and will compete against this year’s preliminary winner. Photo courtesy of Pulaski Tech.

UPDATE 3/5/14: Specific competitor heat times announced here.

What better setting for this year’s Diamond Chef preliminaries than a shiny new culinary school, right?

The annual Diamond Chef competition is a fundraiser for the Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute, taking place in two phases. The preliminary competition, taking place at the school on Thursday, March 6, culls the field of several talented local chefs (see graphic below) down to one competitor, using an elimination-style setup. Each heat features a mystery basket of ingredients that both chefs in that round must use.

Then later in the spring, at a ticketed event at the Statehouse Convention Center, the finalist goes mano-a-mano (or woman-o, if one had entered) on-stage against the previous year’s winner, Chef Dan Capello of Chenal Country Club, while the audience enjoys a multi-course meal. In the final, a single secret ingredient is revealed that must be used in each of at least three courses.

This year marks the preliminary event’s move to the institute’s new building, which opened to students last fall. The preliminary had been held at the former Peabody Hotel in years past.

If you’ve never been to the preliminary competition, it’s a great time to jump in. As opposed to the final, this event is free, and this year it will include some complimentary hors d’oerves and beverages from 5 – 8 p.m. (Thanks, sponsors!) You can drop in anytime between 2 and 8 p.m. to watch the action.

Diamond Chef Arkansas Preliminary Competition
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
13000 Interstate 30, Little Rock
Drop in 2 – 8 p.m. (hors d’oerves and beverages 5 – 8 p.m.)

Prelim eblast FINAL

Gluten Free Chicken Pot Pie Class at PTC March 22

14 Feb
gluten free chicken pot pie

Amazeballs gluten free chicken pot pie, if I do say so myself. Learn to make your own at my class!

I had a lot to do last night.

Pinterest-y Valentines for the Kindergartener’s friends. A not-so-Pinterest-y Beyblade Valentine mailbox for same Kindergartener. Spray-painting elements for said box outside. Realizing that wasn’t going to work and going out for red plastic plates. Baths. Homework. All that momma stuff.

For some unknown reason, I decided it would be a dandy night to make chicken pot pie from scratch. Well, sorta from scratch; my mom brought a rotisserie chicken over at lunch, and the leftovers pretty much demanded to be pot pie. They told me so.

It’s just as well, since I’m teaching a class next month at Pulaski Technical College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute on this very dish. Why not practice a few times? Yum.

The whole pot pie. In class, we'll probably make individual-sized ones. Equally delicious.

The whole pot pie. In class, we’ll probably make individual-sized ones. Equally delicious.

Last night’s version used (gasp) frozen veggies, just because it’s what I had and I forgot to go to Kroger. Sue me. (In class, we’ll bust out our real knife skills on real-life veggies. Because you need the practice.) Well, I did dice a real onion and some garlic, so there’s that.

Want to make your own? Of course you do. This dish was amazing, even with cheater ingredients. We’ll go over how to mix your own gluten-free all-purpose flour (and save a ton of cash) in our class. I’ll teach you how to make flaky pie crust that nobody will know is gluten-free, even your picky gluten-eating family. And we’ll package them up to freeze and bake whenever the pot pie siren calls. (Or, you can bring it home for dinner that night.)

The class is $75 for four hours of instruction and lots of tomfoolery. But productive tomfoolery. Let’s just say we’ll have fun.

Sign up for this class by calling (501) 907-6670, ext. 3407 or emailing Emily Story, Director of Community Education at PTC. See you there!

Gluten Free Pot Pie Class
Pulaski Technical College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
Community Kitchen
Saturday, March 22, 2014
12:30 – 4:30 p.m.
$75 per person

Preview: Amazing New Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts Facility Opens Monday

13 Aug
Pulaski Tech's Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute begins classes in its new (sq ft) facility on Monday, August 19.

Pulaski Tech’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute begins classes in its new facility on Monday, August 19.

Last month, amid a flurry of work-related travel, I got to sneak a peek at the new Pulaski Tech Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute in Little Rock. This Monday, August 19, the facility will open its doors to its first group of students.

Director of Programs Todd Gold took me on a tour on what happened to be my birthday. Although I have already graduated from the program, previously held just across the parking lot at PTC’s South Campus, I felt like I was getting a present.

Suffice it to say, I am extremely jealous of the students who get to attend here. At least I’ll have the opportunity to teach a food writing course here and possibly some gluten-free community classes soon! I’ll let you know when we have dates and details.

I’ve already written extensively about this new facility and what it will offer, but I found out a couple new details during this tour.

First, the institute is pioneering a new program, called Pulaski Tech 3D, to enable young adults with developmental and learning disabilities to train for jobs in foodservice and hospitality. According to coordinator Linda Ducrot, this innovative program will begin with just a few students but will grow with demand and capacity. It will feature an 18-month structured daytime program covering the basics of professional conduct, food preparation, safety and hospitality, also offering these students the opportunity to continue to degree programs if they choose. Those interested in attending the program can find more information on Pulaski Tech’s website.

Also, the institute plans on a new marketing approach, aiming to draw regional and international students in addition to those from Arkansas. Gold said this is a natural evolution, being the only major accredited culinary/hospitality program in the state and one of few in the region, with the added advantage of being a lower-cost option to private institutions such as the Culinary Institute of America, using much of the same curriculum. Gold doesn’t aim to grow the program substantially in numbers anytime soon, though, taking a quality-over-quantity approach as the program grows into its new facility over the next few years.

On the down-low, there’s talk of a big grand opening ceremony later on this year, possibly with a chef or two of national reputation. I haven’t heard a lot of confirmation about all that, as they’re just doing what’s needed to get school started on Monday for now. If you just can’t wait to see the facility, I hear you can stop by at 7:15 Monday morning for the first official walk-through before classes start.


First-Look Walkthrough
7:15 a.m.

Pulaski Technical College
Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management Institute
13000 Interstate 30
Little Rock, AR 72210

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

BLOGtober [Old Post]: I’m Certifiable (Pulaski Tech Achieves Significant Culinary and Hospitality Accreditation)

18 Oct

Note: Today’s challenge with the BLOGtober Fest from Arkansas Women Bloggers was to repost an old post. When I went through my archives, however, I found a few that were never finished or posted, mostly due to lack of time to do so. 

I found this very important post in that pile of unfinished projects, and I’ve decided to share it today. In fact, it’s timely in that Pulaski Tech is now working on their new facility and toward reaccreditation, adding certifications in Baking & Pastry as well as Wine Studies (the latter of which is through a different accrediting body). 

Pulaski Tech continues to have the only accredited culinary or hospitality program in Arkansas

Originally written on March 15, 2010


Yes, it’s official. I’m certifiable.

OK, yes, that way, too. But what I mean is, as a Certified Culinarian. As a student of Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School, upon graduation (and completion of a little paperwork) I may now use that title.

Reason being, the school announced on Friday that the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation’s Accrediting Commission (ACFEF) and the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA) has granted it their accreditation status. That gives us students some status in the marketplace, too.

Don’t just take it from me; here’s the official flack from the school itself.

PTC Arkansas Culinary School receives dual accreditation

LITTLE ROCK  –  The Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School today announced that it has received accreditation from the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation’s Accrediting Commission (ACFEF) and the Accreditation Commission for Programs in Hospitality Administration (ACPHA).

Dr. Dan F. Bakke, college president, and Todd Gold, director of the PTC Arkansas Culinary School, made the announcement Friday during a news conference at Little Rock-South. Guest speaker Montine McNulty, executive director of the Arkansas Hospitality Association, commended the culinary school for the accomplishment.

With this accreditation, the PTC Arkansas Culinary School joins the ranks of other nationally recognized culinary and hospitality schools, and thus offers students the opportunity to graduate with the title Certified Culinarian or Certified Hospitality Graduate. These certifications will allow graduates to enter the workforce with the most widely recognized culinary and hospitality credentials in the nation.

“These accreditations position Pulaski Technical College as a center of excellence for the culinary and hospitality industries,” Dr. Bakke said. “Tourism and hospitality are leading industries in Arkansas, and we are committed to developing a skilled workforce to meet the needs of those industries.”

The Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School is the only college in Arkansas to offer ACFEF accreditation for an Associate of Applied Science in culinary arts and is the only two-year college in the state to offer ACPHA accreditation for the Associate of Applied Science in hospitality management. ACPHA/ACFEF dual accreditation is offered at only 15 colleges and universities in the United States.

Additionally, the PTC Arkansas Culinary School apprenticeship program has received American Culinary Federation recognition as the only culinary apprenticeship program in the state.

Most importantly, these accreditations are widely recognized objective benchmarks in the culinary and hospitality professions. Pulaski Technical College Arkansas Culinary School graduates can expect to gain greatly enhanced employability based on their levels of skill and expertise as measured by these rigorous accrediting bodies.

Pulaski Technical College is a comprehensive, two-year college that serves the educational needs of central Arkansas through more than 90 occupational/technical degree and certificate programs, a university-transfer curriculum and specialized programs for business and industry.

The college’s mission is to provide access to high quality education that promotes student learning, to enable individuals to develop to their fullest potential and to support the economic development of the state.

Images from the announcement ceremony:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Looking Back at Culinary School: A Story Best Told in Time

2 Oct

Tickets from Food IV service on a different night. Mine were messier.

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote this post, other than a little fiddling I did today. I wrote it after a particularly sharp disagreement with one of my chef instructors at culinary school.

The original title, simply, “A Story Best Told in Time,” alluded to the fact that I couldn’t even write details about what happened yet. In the perennial words of Little Critter, I was so mad. Today, I’m over it, so I will.

In Food Production IV, a final-level class in which we did fine-dining service every Friday night, we took turns on different stations. It was my second time doing table service. Before this class, I’d never waited tables, ever. The first time I did in class, it was ugly, but it worked out.

This second time, not so much.

I got table numbers backwards. I got orders out of order. The chef was already in a rare mood that month or so, and my bumbling didn’t set very well at all. “These are big mistakes,” he bellowed from the kitchen as I ran back and forth.

However, things started to get better after drinks and appetizers went down. As I jogged from the kitchen to the dining room, I started to think to myself, “I could do this. This isn’t so bad.”

Then things got weird.

Appetizer dishes started coming out that we didn’t order, even after I had corrected all my bumbling. A runner brought a strange-looking version of the amuse bouche (pre-appetizer bite) to me. “Chef said you needed a vegetarian amuse,” she said. Not only did I not, but we weren’t even on that course anymore. What?

The entree plates were taking forever. Things were crazy in the kitchen, as they often were, but we all seemed to be a little off kilter this evening.

Finally, I saw a runner jog a tray into the dining room. She didn’t signal that it was for my table, as is custom, and she sat it near the other server, so I kept refilling drinks and waiting on my tables as other entrees came out.

Twenty minutes later or so, I came to the excruciating realization that the tray, still sitting out, was for one of my tables. A VIP one.

I’ve never had that kind of butt-chewing from a chef.

And honestly, I deserved it. I didn’t think so at the time, because the runner is supposed to tell me that it’s mine. But a good server would know what dishes were still needed, what table they belonged to, and whether or not they’d arrived yet from the kitchen.

It is with this year-later mea culpa that I understand even more deeply what culinary education is all about. We’re all pretty decent cooks, or we wouldn’t be there. It’s about taking what we may not be so good at and stretching us, making us leaders.


When I started this real-time writing adventure with Pulaski Technical College’s Arkansas Culinary School, I wondered how all that would work out. From the beginning, the administration was aware of my project. Sometimes, my instructors knew that I was writing about their classes, and other times, they didn’t. In my last semester, I got nearly weekly reports from the culinary school office of another instructor who loved my summary of a class, and who may or may not have even known I had been writing similar stories for the past two years.

Before I started school, several friends in the industry recommended I read The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. Similar to myself, Ruhlman started out as a writer, and he went to the Culinary Institute of America to write about the process of becoming a chef. In fact, while we both went to school out of a passion for the culinary arts, he seemed to go as more of an emic research project.

Ruhlman’s thought process through the voyage from writer to chef is a fascinating one. And through this voyage, he was challenged physically, mentally and emotionally, often by way of conflict. His story of interaction with one chef instructor, Michael Pardus, was way more explosive than anything I ever experienced.

Today, Ruhlman and Pardus are close friends. They get together at one house or the other and just cook, experiment, and talk. Theirs is a fiery story that just couldn’t be told as it was happening, but with the comfort and insight of time.

I hope for this kind of relationship someday with my chef instructors. Chefs are often a passionate lot, and we did occasionally butt heads. But in the end, that passion is exactly what makes what we do so special.

Hey guys: Cooking party at my house, in a year or two. I’ll bring the Humble Pie.