March 01, 2012
Gwinnett Tech Culinary Student is Top Chef – for Pears!
Jennifer Williams Pear Ravioli Dish Takes Home USA Pears National Grand Prize
Jennifer Williams, a student in Culinary Arts program at Gwinnett Technical College, took home the national grand prize for her original recipe at the 2012 USA Pears Culinary Student Competition.
Williams and two other contest finalists traveled to Oregon last month to create their dishes for the judges at Portland's Le Cordon Bleu. Williams' Pear and Prosciutto Ravioli with Pear Sauce entrée entry received the top honor along with a $1,000 scholarship prize.
The judges were impressed with the balance of sweet and savory flavors achieved from Williams' use of four types of USA Pear varieties, cheeses, prosciutto and fall-inspired spices in the ravioli stuffing and the sauce. All entries were awarded points for prominent use of fresh pears, originality, creativity, appearance, texture and taste. Per contest rules, only United States grown pairs could be used in the recipes.
"Jennifer is the type of student who takes in all opportunities and absorbs as much as possible – the type of student who'll be very successful in life, not just in culinary circles," says Chef Kerri Crean, culinary arts program director at GTC. "She has shown that putting in 110% will actually pay off, this time in the form of that $1,000 scholarship."
Williams started testing and refining her recipe between fall and spring semesters at Gwinnett Tech this past December. Once arriving at a winning combination of ingredients, she then practiced in the professional kitchen at Gwinnett Tech.
"I knew that cooking in the Le Cordon Bleu kitchen would be very different from my kitchen at home," recalls Jennifer Williams. "Practicing with my instructors, Chef Crean and Chef Miller, I was able to prepare my recipe in GTC's professional kitchen, time my actions, analyze and then improve. Not knowing what equipment would be available to me during the contest, I experimented with multiple scenarios so I was fully prepared."
This intense preparation accomplished two things. First, it calmed Williams' nerves since she felt she had manufactured and conquered every imaginable contingency. Secondly, that practice helped her overcome something she would never have planned for – a fire drill in the middle of the competition. Even though the competitors had to evacuate the kitchen for 15 precious minutes, Williams says she was still able to get everything done without the interruption disturbing her rhythm.
William's winning recipe follows.
The Culinary Arts Program at Gwinnett Tech offers a degree and diploma in culinary arts a well as a prep cook certificate.
Gwinnett Tech offers more than 50 degree, diploma and certificate options that can be completed in two years or less. For more information, visit www.GwinnettTech.edu or call 770-962-7580.
Get the latest news about Gwinnett Tech: www.GwinnettTech.edu/news.
About USA Pears
The Pear Bureau Northwest is a non-profit marketing organization established in 1931 to promote, advertise and develop markets for pears grown in the states of Washington and Oregon, under the USA Pear brand. The Bureau represents more than 1,600 growers and 55 packers who produce approximately 84 percent of the nation's fresh pear crop, and develops national and international markets for Northwest pear distribution. For more information, visit the website at www.usapears.org.
Pear and Prosciutto Ravioli with Pear Sauce
created by Jennifer Williams, Gwinnett Technical College
9.5 oz. flour, all-purpose
3 large eggs
5 oz. peeled, seeded, and rough chopped Bosc pears
4 oz. peeled, seeded, and rough chopped Bartlett pears
4 oz. peeled, seeded, and rough chopped Comice pears
1 Tbsp. butter
18 oz. sparkling pear juice
1 Tbsp. cardamom, freshly ground
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
2 oz. heavy cream
8 oz. Neufchatel cheese, room temperature
1 oz. grated gruyere cheese
1 oz. gorgonzola crumbles
1 oz. ricotta cheese
3.5 oz. peeled, seeded, and small diced Forelle pears
2 oz. cubetti (small dice) prosciutto chunks
1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, minced
¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground
¼ tsp. allspice, freshly ground
¼ tsp. granulated onion
¼ tsp. garlic powder
¼ tsp. dried orange peel
¼ tsp. mace
¼ tsp. nutmeg, freshly ground
Put flour in a bowl, lightly beat eggs, and pour eggs into the center of the flour. Use a fork to mix the flour into the eggs. When the mixture becomes too stiff to work with a fork, turn it out onto the work surface and continue to form dough by hand. The dough will make a soft ball. If there is too much flour, do not use it all. If the dough is too wet, add more flour. Knead the dough, using the heels of the hand to flatten the dough from the middle outward. Knead until dough is even and elastic, about 10 minutes. Wrap ball of dough in plastic or cover with an inverted bowl for at least 15 minutes to let dough rest.
While the dough rests, make pear sauce and ravioli filling. To make the sauce, sauté the Bosc, Bartlett and Comice pears in butter until golden brown. Remove from heat and puree in food processor. Pour puree into saucepan and stir in sparkling pear juice, salt, pepper, and cardamom. Cook on medium for 8 to 10 minutes, until sauce thickens slightly. Stir in cream, cover, and remove from heat.
To make the filling, use a mixer with a paddle attachment to beat Neufchatel cheese until smooth. Scrape down sides of bowl and add gruyere, gorgonzola and ricotta cheeses. Mix on low until incorporated. Combine black pepper, allspice, granulated onion, garlic powder, orange peel, mace and nutmeg in a small container. Add Forelle pears, prosciutto, parsley and seasoning blend to the cheese mixture. Mix on low to incorporate ingredients. Set aside.
Cut dough into six pieces. Keep the other pieces of dough covered with the inverted bowl or plastic wrap. Shape one piece of dough into a flattened square and roll through pasta machine at the widest setting. Lightly dust dough with flour, fold dough into thirds and roll through pasta machine. Repeat two times. Set the roller to the next notch, dust dough lightly with flour and roll through pasta machine, gently gathering the other end as it goes through the machine. Continue to feed dough through the roller once at each setting until the second to last notch. By this time, the dough should be long and wide enough to fit over a ravioli mold.
Place pasta sheet over a well floured and/or sprayed ravioli mold and pipe filling into the mold's indentations or use a small scoop to fill the mold. Roll another piece of the dough just as before. Lightly brush the edges and center sections of the mold with water and place the pasta sheet on top of the filling in the mold to form the bottom of the ravioli. Using a rolling pin, roll over pasta sheet to seal the sheets of pasta together. Invert the mold and cut along indentations of the ravioli using a fluted pastry cutter. Let ravioli dry for 15 minutes before cooking.
Add ravioli to salted boiling water and cook three to four minutes. Drain and serve immediately with pear sauce. Makes 34 servings of two inch by two inch ravioli.
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About Gwinnett Tech
Gwinnett Technical College, one of Georgia's largest technical colleges, is committed to delivering relevant knowledge to meet the workforce training needs of its community. The college offers more than 50 associate degree, diploma and certificate programs and hundreds of seminars, workshops and courses providing specialized training. GTC is Gwinnett County's largest provider of corporate training and now serves residents and businesses in north Fulton County. Gwinnett Technical College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award the associate degree. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097,404-679-4500, www.sacscoc.org for questions about the accreditation of Gwinnett Technical College. For more information, visit www.GwinnettTech.edu.
A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia.