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March 29, 2010
Residential Dining Services Chef Steven Nalls might just have a whole new relationship with the Portobello mushroom. The Portobello served as his culinary muse during the National Association of College & University Food Services, or NACUFS, Culinary Challenge held Saturday, March 20, at the Ram's Horn. But, it was Nalls' expertise and grace under cooking fire, which led him to victory.
Nalls (pictured at right) received a silver medal, the highest honor in this points-driven competition. No gold medal was awarded. A traveling trophy with Nalls’ nameplate as the newest addition, will reside at Colorado State University until it is passed to the next top chef at the regional conference in 2011.
Nalls will compete in the NACUFS National Conference Culinary Challenge in July.
“We are proud of Steven’s accomplishment, and honored to have him represent Colorado State University’s Residential Dining Services on a national level at the NACUFS National Culinary Competition in July. Our dining centers are driven by a host of talent, and Steven is a prime example of the dedication and expertise our staff show on a consistent basis,” says Deon Lategan, director of Residential Dining Services for Colorado State University.
Competing against 11 other chefs from the Continental and Pacific regions in a scene resembling Food Network’s Iron Chef, Nalls created a Portobello and Chicken Roulade with Glazed Root Vegetables, Shaved Fennel and Arugula Salad (pictured at right).
Composed and plated amidst a flurry of people and cameras, the entry was judged worthy of top billing by noted chefs Elena Clement, Robert Meitzer and Master Chef Roland Henin.
“I think my presentation was something that was delightful to look at,” Nalls says of his winning dish.
Beyond the win, Nalls takes with him valuable culinary knowledge. “It was a good learning experience,” he says. “A lot of accomplished people were there.”
Nalls has worked in the restaurant industry since he was 15. In 2003, he received an A.O.S. from the California School of Culinary Arts Le Cordon Bleu program. While in culinary school, he worked for Spago catering in Hollywood. Upon graduation, he worked for hotels and restaurants in Texas, Hawaii and Colorado. Nalls currently works at Colorado State University’s Corbett Marketplace.
The Culinary Challenge was a highlight of the NACUFS Continental Regional conference, which Colorado State University’s Housing & Dining Services hosted for the first time this year. The annual challenge is an American Culinary Federation sanctioned culinary competition and draws top talent from college and university dining services programs from around the region.
Contact: Tosha Jupiter
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