Fire up the grill for NMSU’s College Cook-Off Challenge

April 27, 2009 by Justin Bannister NMSU News Center

Chef John Hartley, an assistant professor in HRTM, and teammate Garrey Carruthers, dean of the College of Business, hold their certificates and trophies for Best Overall Burger -- "The Loco Moco" in the College Cook-Off Challenge.

Chef John Hartley, an assistant professor in HRTM, and teammate Garrey Carruthers, dean of the College of Business, hold their certificates and trophies for Best Overall Burger -- "The Loco Moco" in the College Cook-Off Challenge.

It had all the elements of a successful Food Network cable television show: an emcee, a live audience, tasty ingredients and teams ready to compete for the title of number one. But this wasn’t “Food Challenge” or even “Iron Chef America,” it was NMSU’s College Cook-Off Challenge.

The competition was hosted by the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management Friday, April 24, at the Wooton Hall Courtyard. NMSU Interim President Waded Cruzado and a dean or a representative from each college were paired with NMSU culinary faculty members to make seven competing teams, each making their own original gourmet burgers.

The winner for Best Overall Burger was “The Loco Moco,” made by Chef John Hartley, an assistant professor in HRTM, and Business Dean Garrey Carruthers. “La Jefa,” made by Elizabeth Albin, an assistant professor in HRTM, and Interim President Cruzado received honorable mention.

Students in HRTM’s meeting and event planning class planned and executed the event as their semester project. The idea came from a former student, Veronica Cordova, who graduated last spring. She thought it would be fun to see NMSU culinary faculty members in situations similar to ones on some of her favorite food-related shows such as “Chopped” and “Hell’s Kitchen.”

“This event not only teaches the students about organization, but it also helps them to follow event timelines from the beginning stages of planning an event until the end,” said Jolie Tixier, who teaches the events planning class. “The event also prepares students who wish to pursue event planning as a career because it teaches them communication skills and the importance of working with many individuals to make an event happen.”

Students were responsible for all aspects of the project, from designing tickets and t-shirts to obtaining the grills used for the event. Students also sold tickets and promoted the event.

“Hospitality is always unpredictable. You have to be able to handle stressful situations,” said Jessika Romero, an HRTM student who helped set up the event. She said the project gave her experience working with others – something she enjoys.

College Cook-Off Challenge teams and burgers:

The Flat Belly Burger
Lowell Catlett
Greg Blanch

The Loco Moco
Garrey Carruthers
John Hartley

THE Burger
Robert Rhodes
Chris Beardsley

The Chupacabra
Tom Burton
Margaret Doherty

La Jefa
Waded Cruzado
Elizabeth Albin

El Norteño
Michael Morehead
Maurice Zeck

Over the Top
Pam Jansma
Keith Mandabach


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