Foodie Challenge donation made to Culinary Arts program at BOCES
Officials from the Batavia Development Corporation, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the Batavia Business Improvement District, collaborators on the Foodie Challenge, recently presented the proceeds from the People’s Choice Tasting Event to Chef Burgio and Culinary Arts students. Chef Tracy Burgio noted how this $750 donation would support student activities.
“This contribution to the Culinary Arts Club will help to enrich our students’ culinary education by helping to fund field trips, projects and student competitions,” Chef Burgio said.
“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Batavia Development Corporation and the freshLAB project. It is our hope that this partnership sparks more involvement with our community partners,” said Jon Sanfratello, executive principal of the Batavia CTE Center and Campus.
Photo: Barb Shine, front, left, and Pierluigi Cipollone from the Batavia Development Corporation; Mary Vandenbosch, student; Steve Pies, Batavia Development Corporation; Chef Tracy Burgio, Culinary Arts instructor, Batavia CTE Center; Danny Pernesky, Debra Moore, students. Back left: Austin Deck, student; Jon Sanfratello, executive principal, GVEP Batavia Campus; Julie Pacatte, Batavia Development Corporation; Tom Turnbull, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
More after the jump:
“I want to leave a legacy of Puerto Rican cooking to my family. I want to leave that legacy to my kids,” said Victor Figueroa, of Batavia.
Figueroa will get that opportunity after being named the People’s Choice winner and Selection Committee Top Contestant at the freshLAB’s Foodie Challenge, held at Batavia Career and Technical Education Center (CTE) on Sept. 23.
Figueroa was one of eight competitors who created a sweet or savory dish for the challenge. He found inspiration from his culture’s love of finger food by creating Puerto Rican Cheeseburger Empanada with passion fruit chili sauce – a secret family recipe.
As the winner, Figueroa will be offered free tuition to attend the freshLAB restaurant ownership Boot Camp and the opportunity to win $30,000 to open his own restaurant on Main Street, Batavia.
Local restaurant creativity advocates conceived the freshLAB restaurant incubator to strengthen the local food service industry and to capitalize on more that $20,000,000 that leaves Genesee County each year when residents eat, drink and pay for entertainment elsewhere. The project is funded, in part, by USDA Rural Development to intentionally link regional agriculture to the menu.
The proceeds from the Foodie Challenge, $750 in total, were donated to the Culinary Arts Club at the Batavia CTE Center.
Chef Tracy Burgio, the Culinary Arts instructor at the Batavia CTE Center, and four students guided the contestants through all-day cooking preparations.
“I hope this will open the door for my students in seeing the path from the classroom to an actual career,” Chef Burgio saida.
During the competition, the kitchen was open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for contestants to prepare their dishes. They were required to create at least 150 samples, with one ingredient being locally sourced.
Gina Bianco, of Middleport, created Eggplant Busiolo -- her mother’s recipe. She enjoys cooking homemade, authentic food that comes from the heart. In fact, Bianco’s confident she could open a restaurant using family recipes.
“I’ve always wanted to have my own restaurant. I have my own food truck. My mom was a cook and my dad was a cook, and I have good, traditional family recipes,” Bianco said.
At 5 p.m., the contestants had to stop cooking and plate their food. Ticket holders were then invited to sample the food and cast their votes for their favorite dish.
“I read an article about this competition and I thought it would be fun to support people who want to start their own business,” said Janice Spiotta, a counselor at Churchville-Chili Central Schools.
Her friend, Catherine Johnston, a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher at Pavilion Central Schools, also enjoyed the event.
“I’m a foodie and this is a great event,” Johnston said.
Friends Andrea Fetterly, from Batavia, and Wendy Bailey, from Churchville, have been on a weight-loss journey together. They chose to attend the Foodie Challenge because they wanted to get food ideas for their families and be able to sample food, instead of sitting down to eat a large meal.
Andrea enjoyed Figueroa’s dish, while Wendy raved about Bianco’s eggplant and a dish called “Bahama Mama” made by Daniel DelPlato, of Batavia.
Ronald Smith, of Rochester, is a roofer by trade but has always dreamed of opening his own restaurant. He wanted to bring diversity to the competition with his dish of Pollo de Miel.
“So many cultures have good food but people don’t travel far to eat,” Smith said. “People don’t get that exposure and I want to bring that to them.”
Additional contestants included Lisa Casey, Judy Hysek, Christopher Hysek and Rob Rudnicki, all of Batavia.
Officials from the Batavia Development Corporation, the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce and the Batavia Business Improvement District, collaborators on the event, recently presented the proceeds from the People’s Choice Tasting Event to Chef Burgio and Culinary Arts students.
Chef Burgio noted how this $750 donation would support student activities.
“This contribution to the Culinary Arts Club will help to enrich our students’ culinary education by helping to fund field trips, projects, and student competitions,” Chef Burgio said.
“We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the Batavia Development Corporation and the freshLAB project. It is our hope that this partnership sparks more involvement with our community partners,” said Executive Principal Sanfratello.