On June 5th, dietetic interns from Stony Brook University’s Renaissance School of Medicine faced off against one another in a cooking competition based on the popular Food Network TV series “Chopped” to close out their internship program at Stony Brook University Hospital. Lorraine Danowski, associate director of the dietetic internship program, partnered with University Hospital foodservice staff led by Kathleen Logsdon Carrozza, assistant director of food and retail services, hosted the competition in the hospital kitchen.
“This is our review week for the internship program, and we go over everything to prepare for the registration exam,” Danowski explained. “To take a break from all of that, we decided to do something a little more fun.”
“This is a great team-building activity because the students strategize together, divide their tasks and communicate with each other to exchange ideas about creating menu items that will impress the judges,” added Carrozza.
Each team of two students was assigned a single course into which they had to incorporate a set of surprise ingredients determined by University Hospital Executive Chef Joseph Cormier, who also helped develop the cooking competition.
The surprise ingredients were lamb chops, sunburst squash, enoki mushrooms and chocolate mint for the appetizer; arctic char, parsnips, black garlic and bamboo rice for the entrée; and Corn Chex, honey powder, cherry pie filling, plain Greek yogurt and figs for dessert.
The interns were given 10 minutes to plan and an hour to prepare and plate their meal, assisted by University Hospital chefs Courtney Rowehl and Denise Malandrino. Afterward, the judges— Carrozza and General Manager of Retail Operations Terrance Lee—critiqued the dishes on taste, presentation and use of ingredients.
The winners in the respective course categories were Samantha Vallejo and Katie Obojkovits (best appetizer), Meghan Hampton and Maria Rengifo (best entrée) and Mikaela Clemente and Alanna Downey (best dessert).
Perhaps one of the most valuable lessons from the event for the future dietitians came from experiencing just how difficult a chef’s job can be, something that may help bring perspective in the future if they have to work with culinarians in developing menus.
“I have a lot of respect for chefs everywhere because it’s not an easy job,” observed Obojkovits. “It’s really hard to be given ingredients and work with all the ingredients to make a cohesive dish.”
Stony Brook offers an accredited dietetic internship program to candidates who have received a bachelor’s degree from an approved institution that consists of 1,200 hours of supervised practice.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]
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