What is it like to be on the show Hell's Kitchen? A dozen Reynolds culinary students recently found out. The students joined Clemenza Caserta, a Richmond chef who appeared on this season's show, and Executive Mansion Chef Darren Rounds in a fast-paced, pressure packed cooking competition.
“I thought we were coming to help prep food for Chef Clemenza,” noted Mary Catherine Thompson. “We had no idea we would get a chance to prepare a dish for such a prestigious audience.”
Upon arriving in the Executive Mansion’s kitchen, Caserta and Rounds introduced themselves, quickly announced ingredients available and put 30 minutes on the clock for the students to make their best dish. Ingredients included local seasonal items including Virginia Rockfish, tomatoes, eggplant, basil and homemade mozzarella.
“We tried to ensure most of the ingredients are fresh and seasonal in Virginia, including the Rockfish,” said Rounds. “Many of the spices and vegetables the students are using were picked out of the garden we maintain here at the Governor’s Mansion.”
Throughout the competition, Caserta and Rounds observed and gave valuable hands-on tips and feedback to the students. “It reminds me of when I was first starting out in a kitchen,” noted Caserta as he observed the students in pairs work furiously throughout the tight quarters of the kitchen. “Watching their hunger, passion and creativity gets my juices flowing again. I love it.”
Upon judging six dishes, Caserta and Rounds proclaimed the winners were Robin Reeks and Stephanie Boehles, who served up pan-sheared Virginia Rockfish with summer-fruit salsa and eggplant parmesan.
|Robin Reeks (L) and Stephanie Boehles |
with Chef Caserta
“It was an incredible experience getting thrown in a situation like that with so much pressure,” said Boehles. “Robin and I worked great as a team and just trusted each other.”
The winning team was presented with Governor's Mansion china plates signed by Caserta, Rounds and First Lady of Virginia Maureen McDonnell.
Additional photos can be found on the College's Facebook site.