Penn College students use products from local farms in cooking contest

PHOTO PROVIDED A dish made by Penn College students Cy C. Heller, of Milton, and R. Colby Janowitz, of Westminster, Md., took first place in a cooking competition for the college’s culinary arts students at the Williamsport Growers Market. Made on-site using ingredients purchased from local growers, the dish includes ginger-marinated Delmonico steak, potato hash and spaghetti squash.

Five student teams from Pennsylvania College of Technology battled it out Oct. 8 at the Williamsport Growers Market, using the best ingredients — fresh and locally produced — to determine the best student chefs of the morning.

The two-man team of Cy C. Heller and R. Colby Janowitz were the top finishers in a tough competition. It was not the students’ first exposure to culinary competition. All are juniors and seniors in the culinary arts and systems bachelor-degree major, and several completed a capstone course, Culinary Competition and Skills Assessment, in the spring semester. All were out to produce a tasty, creative and visually appealing dish.

As teams set up in the morning, they received a bag with three required ingredients: Delmonico steak, shoulder bacon (also called cottage bacon) and ginger. In addition, they were required to use at least one of the following: honey, hemp seed oil, maple syrup or cheese. All of the ingredients were purchased from growers at the market.

Each team was allotted $20 to buy additional ingredients from market vendors to round out its dish.

Heller and Janowitz’s winning dish included ginger-marinated Delmonico steak, potato hash and spaghetti squash. Heller is from Milton and Janowitz is from Westminster, Maryland.

Sarah B. Fiedler, of Lock Haven, and Katlyn J. Hackling, of Williamsport, took second with their dish: Delmonico with beef red pepper glaze, cabbage and carrot vinegar slaw, sautÈed rainbow chard with bacon, garlic-thyme potatoes, and fried shallots.

Third place went to Christopher S. Kasler, of Williamsport, and Kassandra S. Sellinger, of Linden. To accompany their Delmonico steak, the two prepared an apple, delicata squash and carrot flower; crispy potatoes; and kombucha, ginger and apple sabayon.

Fourth place went to Paige E. Cooke, of Wayne, and Paul J. Herceg, of Chalfont. They marinated their Delmonico steak in apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger and thyme and served it with rainbow carrots, baby peppers and maple bacon, and potato hay (then French fries) with thyme and rosemary. They topped the dish with a fried egg.

In fifth, students Magdalen C. Bennett, of Erie, and Jessica T. Haynes, of Bethlehem, prepared Delmonico steak with balsamic and bacon coleslaw and purple potatoes.

The competition was organized by Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts, in memory of his wife, Mary. Funds for the products that were purchased from the growers, and for the prizes for student winners, were donated in memory of Mary.

“Mary loved the Growers Market,” Ditchfield said. “She loved working with Anne Nordell and her friends at Beech Grove Farm. She loved seeing the many people in the community that she knew. She wanted to do something she believed in, and that was working with and preparing local, healthy food.”

The student dishes were judged on the accuracy of their cooking methods, seasoning, texture, overall flavor, aroma, color, and overall appearance and creativity. Judges were Ditchfield; Nordell; Chef Paul Mach, assistant professor of hospitality management/culinary arts; and Bob Wise, of Lock Haven, a Growers Market shopper whose name was drawn as a guest judge.

In addition to supporting local farmers, the competition provided an opportunity for culinary arts students to interact with producers and experience the quality of fresh, local ingredients.

To learn more about culinary arts majors at Penn College, call 570-327-4505 or visit