S&D Coffee & Tea (S&D), the largest coffee and tea manufacturer and supplier to restaurants and convenience stores in America, is hosting its highly competitive annual Culinary Challenge at Johnson & Wales University Charlotte (JWU).
This year’s theme is Food Truck Frenzy, which challenges students to draw inspiration from the unique, innovative menus of this growing foodservice segment to earn a spot in the competition.
“Food trucks are becoming a culinary mainstay, and we thought the creativity they inspire would be a great theme for this year’s challenge—not to mention that the JWU students are very familiar with the food truck concept, since there are two parked across from their campus on a daily basis,” says John Buckner, vice president of marketing at S&D. “Each year we are impressed with the ingenuity and originality of the student contestants’ recipes, and we look forward to seeing how they take on the quick-serve angle in the 2017 contest.”
Students were invited to submit original recipes using S&D coffee and tea extracts or coffee grounds with 20 submissions making it through the first round of judging. These students will go on to compete in the Culinary Challenge Semifinals Taste Test, held January 27 at the university. Students’ dishes will be judged by a panel of Charlotte-based food truck owners:
Aaron Rivera, The Chrome Toaster
George Leach, OooWee BBQ
Brian Stockholm, Papi Queso
DaRel Daniels, Street Spice
Scott Tang, Yummi Banh Mi
The 10 hand-selected students or student duos who pass the semifinals will be paired with one of the food truck owners who will serve as a mentor, helping them prepare to compete at the Culinary Challenge’s live culinary event on February14, held in the Hance Auditorium on the JWU campus. The top student chef chosen that evening will receive a $5,000 grand prize, and the winner’s food truck mentor will receive a $5,000 donation to the mentor’s charity of choice. Seven other students will also receive cash prizes.
“We are pleased to once again offer our students the opportunity to hone their recipe development, culinary and presentation skills through the S&D Culinary Challenge,” says Tarun Malik, Ed. D, vice president at JWU. “The partnership with S&D continues to be a source of pride for Johnson & Wales, and we benefit greatly from having this locally based, national foodservice leader investing in the future of the culinary industry.”
At the February 14 finale, an all-star panel of judges and an auditorium filled with students, faculty and other supporters will watch the finalists prepare their dishes and make formal presentations, much like popular reality TV cooking competitions.