Coffee-rubbed duck breast with black currant reduction, pulled duck thigh, spinach gnocchi parisienne and batonnet carrots. Sounds like a gold-medal dish, right?
For Mizzou’s Jeremy Elmore, it was. The Campus Dining Services sous chef won the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) Midwest Regional contest and now moves on to the national competition.
“I was overwhelmed with excitement and joy,” Elmore says. “It was so rewarding to see that my hard work had paid off.”
The nationally sanctioned challenge, held at Plaza 900 on MU’s campus for the first time this year, imposed strict regulations on ingredients, equipment, techniques and time. Chefs had an hour of cook time and an additional 10 minutes for plating. Elmore came into the competition confident and with something of a sports mentality: “I had to protect my house!”
Scoring is on a 40-point scale with specific deductions, so it’s possible for several competitors to earn the same medal. Gold-medal scores were 36-40 points, and Elmore, who started with CDS in 2007, earned a 36.5.
“Earning a gold medal is extremely challenging and requires near-perfect execution,” CDS executive chef Eric Carwright says. “It is not uncommon for no gold medals to be awarded, and receiving one is considered to be a crowning achievement by competitors.”
Elmore, the first chef from CDS to both earn a gold medal in the regional competition and to finish in first place, moves on to the national NACUFS competition July 11. He’ll face off against the other five regional winners in Minneapolis.
“All I know about them is what I’ve seen on the Facebook page,” Elmore says. Winning "still hasn’t hit me yet.”