Inspiration comes in many forms. For Montgomery County Community College student Can Uslu, it was her favorite hamburger.
Uslu recently took the top prize of $1,000 in The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College bacon recipe/cooking contest sponsored by Clemens Food Group and featuring Hatfield® bacon. She was among three CAI students from whose food trend-inspired bacon recipes were selected for the finals of the competition.
She was inspired by her favorite hamburger – a bacon blue cheese burger – but wanted to put her own creative spin on it and put her culinary skills to the test. She created a bacon taco recipe that included shells made from bacon and filled with Angus beef, caramelized onion, blue cheese, avocado, baby arugula and Sriracha mayo.
“I was just trying to showcase the bacon and not hide it in something else, and I thought the bacon taco would be a good idea,” Uslu said. “I was extremely happy, excited and surprised when I won. We should all be proud of ourselves. The other dishes were fantastic as well, and it was a tough decision.”
For the contest, CAI students were asked to submit a single recipe aligning with one of three food service trends identified by Clemens Food Group: Ethnic Inspired, such as Middle Eastern, Asian, Mediterranean, African or Mexican; “Brunchfast,” incorporating traditional lunch/dinner ingredients into a breakfast entrée; and street-food inspired dishes, finger foods that are typically meant for immediate consumption.
Video courtesy of the Clemens Food Group
“We are always looking for creative culinary creations and today’s student chefs rose to the challenge. We were impressed with the idea of using Hatfield® bacon to make taco shells. The recipe took a Mexican-inspired dish and added street-food inspiration; that’s a unique way to showcase the flavor and versatility of Hatfield® bacon,” said Kristen Hessler, foodservice brand manager for Clemens Food Group.
Christine Farris of Wyndmoor, Pa., was runner-up, taking home $500 for her Everything Bagel Rugelach, and Ambler’s Angela Lutz, who created Bacon Artichoke Balls garnished with Jalapeño mayo, captured third place and a gift bag of Hatfield® and Clemens Food Group branded products.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our students,” said Chef Francine Marz. “I was impressed with the recipes submitted, and our finalists showed their culinary skills and their professionalism in perfecting their dishes and presenting them to the judges.”
All submitted recipes, including the winners, will be used as menu inspiration for key restaurant customers, as well as provide at-home consumers creative ways to utilize bacon, Hessler said.