THIBODAUX — After sweeping the competition for six straight weeks, Nicholls State University culinary senior Logan Parker took home the final prize during the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute’s first-ever Grill-Off, which wrapped up Thursday, Sept. 11 at the Dansereau House in Thibodaux.
“I’ve learned a lot competing these past six weeks,” Parker, a native of Farmerville, said. “The pressure gets to you mentally and physically, but hearing feedback from the judges and compliments from [culinary institute executive director] Chef Randy Cheramie have inspired me. I think the competition has been a great way to get culinary students amped up and inspired.”
Parker won a $1,000 scholarship donated by Donald Bourgeois of Bourgeois Meat Market in Thibodaux, a $100 gift card and a one-night stay in the Dansereau House’s Governor’s Suite.
“I’m a big believer in the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, and I’m excited for the future of the institution,” Bourgeois said. “The university’s new culinary facility will be a huge addition for Thibodaux and the entire state.”
The Grill-Off, which began Aug. 7, pitted two student chefs from the Nicholls culinary institute against each other each week. Faced with a secret ingredient, competitors had to come up with their best dish to serve attendees and impress a panel of judges. The Grill-Off is only one aspect of a larger partnership with the Dansereau House, which is also now offering externships and job opportunities for Nicholls culinary students.
After the final secret ingredients were revealed to be hanger steak and pears, Parker won with a main course of grilled flat iron steak with a Bordeaux reduction, cream potatoes with caramelized onions and sautéed zucchini and yellow squash. His dessert was pain perdu with creme anglaise, raspberry compote and candied pecans garnished with whipped cream and mint.
Parker, who will graduate next fall, spent the summer externing at the Westchester Country Club in Harrison, New York. Although sometimes working more than 100 hours a week, he said staff made time for after-hours cooking competitions like the Grill-Off.
Next summer, Parker plans to travel to France to study classical French culinary techniques. His career goals include establishing gardening, sustainability and green energy programs in public schools nationwide to teach children where food comes from and how to eat and prepare healthy, balanced meals.
The culinary institute and Dansereau House plan to host another cooking competition later this fall. For more information on the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute, visit www.nicholls.edu/culinary.