Brian Duffet, a culinary student at Jefferson State Community College, recently won the top award at the National SkillsUSA Culinary Competition. According to Alabama News Center, the twenty year old from Trussville competed against 26 other contestants in June to earn the gold medal as the nation’s top culinary student. He also received a $50,000 scholarship to the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Duffet admitted he went through intense preparation for the three hour long competition. “I’ve done roasted chicken probably 40 times, so the chicken was no longer fun for me to eat,” Deffet said. “It was exciting, but nerve-wracking
“I did a four-course meal: a couscous salad with citrus vinaigrette, lentil soup infused with roasted red bell pepper, braised beef cheek with gnocchetti and the chicken. Most people do a basic salad, but I did a composed salad with a cookie – a tuile – on top. I probably practiced the salad nine times.”
Duffet is studying to be a savory chef and has a long list of restaurant experiences under his belt (or apron I should say). While only a sophomore at Jeff State, Duffet has studied under chef Trent Bissell at the Todd English P.U.B. and Haller Magee, former executive chef at Satterfield’s restaurant in Cahaba Heights. Despite working under some of the Alabama culinary greats, Duffet credits his love for cooking to his father.
“My dad always cooked at home for us. One day he announced that I would go to the store and buy all the food for a meal, and be allowed to cook it for the family. He did this with my brother and sister, too. We’re all good cooks. I have a meatball recipe that I like to fix. It’s our family’s secret recipe.”
Duffet quickly rose from his humble family beginnings, enrolling in the culinary program at Hewitt-Trussville High School. Under the direction of Chef Anna Hallman, Duffet began training at several professional kitchens where he learned that staging the meal is equally as important as cooking it. His experiences landed him a spot in Jeff State’s culinary program, the longest running accredited culinary program in Alabama.
Joseph Mitchell, program director of the Culinary and Hospitality Institute at Jeff State is confidant that Duffet has what it takes to make it in the culinary industry. “Brian has the skills to be successful. At this point, he will grow and become a professional chef – we expect him to do well.”
In a state largely focused on sports, Duffet’s success is a crowning achievement for the state’s arts programs.
“I want to have my own kitchen one day,” Duffett said. “I’m excited about starting the Culinary Institute and seeing what the future holds for me.”
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