Chefs from Texas State University compete in Culinary Throwdown

The winner was crowned “champion” of the Mongolian Station in Commons Dining Hall.
Culinary throwdown
The chefs created recipes that could be cooked at the Mongolian Station in Commons Dining Hall. | Photo courtesy of Texas State Dining.

Texas State Dining and its foodservice partner, Chartwells Higher Education, hosted a culinary throwdown earlier this month to determine the “champion” of the Mongolian Station in Commons Dining Hall.

Four chefs from different university dining departments were tasked with creating two menu items each, incorporating two secret ingredients into the recipes. Dishes were judged on taste, presentation, use of ingredients and creativity.

“This is a great way to showcase the talent we have while engaging the students in something that is fun and exciting,” said Whitney Villarreal, director of marketing and guest experience at Texas State University, in a statement. “This event brings all our chefs together and our associates, managers and directors from other locations to show support and camaraderie for their teammates.”

Chef Tyrone Cleveland of Harris Dining Hall, the reigning champion at the San Marcos, Texas university, was the first contestant up. A recent trip to Spain inspired his recipes: Fried calamari with garlic aioli slaw and red wine reduction duck breast.

Ex-marine Louis Wooderts, chef at Jones Dining Center, was given squid and Beyond Beef as his secret ingredients. Tapping into his vast travels over six continents, he cooked up two global dishes: lettuce wrap vegan street tacos and surf and turf jalapeno poppers.

Catering chef Matt Crouser, a former tattoo artist, applied his visual talents to the competition. He presented the judges with California squid and mango ceviche and a BAM fried rice with Spam as the secret ingredient.

Spam was also in the market basket of Arrianna Cruz, Commons Dining Hall chef. She ingeniously turned the product into Spam ragoons, a spin on a tapas recipe from her Native American grandma’s collection. Her second dish—duck stuffing with plum sauce—was inspired by a favorite restaurant in her hometown of Houston.

Chef Cruz was crowned the winner, earning a trophy and bragging rights at the Mongolian Station in her own dining hall.

But as Villarreal noted, “Ultimately, the real winners will be the students because they get to try different cuisines they may have never tried.”



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