Andrew Zaleski>Senior>English>Loyola University Maryland
Try preparing an appetizer, an entrée and a dessert inside the space of 60 minutes. That’s what Chef Kenneth Plante is tasked with doing as a participant in this year’s Mason Dixon Master Chef Tournament.
The tournament, which began May 10, runs straight through until the championship round on September 13. One-on-one cooking competitions are held weekly until the field of 32 teams (one executive chef and one sous chef comprise each team) is whittled down to the final two, with the winner being crowned the Mason Dixon Master Chef.
For Plante, a graduate of Baltimore International Culinary College, this is the first time he has been involved in any sort of cooking competition, but his work as executive chef at Baltimore’s Red Star restaurant has certainly prepared him well: in his first head-to-head match June 7, Plante prepared and plated his three-course meal with only four seconds to spare. He now moves on to his second-round match, which will take place July 26.
For students looking to get into the culinary arts, Plante has some pretty simple advice: “If you’ve ever said, ‘Jeez, it’s hot outside,’ don’t do this.
“[The] hours are long, the kitchens are hot, and it’s [the food] still gotta look pretty, still gotta look great, and the people in the dining room don’t want to hear excuses.”
As a warm-up, try some of these recipes that Plante recommends especially for the summer time (including where he buys his ingredients in Baltimore).
Fresh Heirloom Caprese Salad
Sliced heirlooms (from under the Route 83 farmers’ market)
Roughly chopped basil (also from the Route 83 farmers’ market)
Mozzarella cheese (buy homemade from Ceriello’s in Belvedere Square)
Serve cold and layered with a drizzle of olive oil and a little salt and pepper—so delicious, and great for a hot summer day.
Grilled Bison Burger
Bison meat (Plante buys his from Gunpowder Farm)
Make them the size you like and grill them with salt and pepper (don’t cook them past medium)
Top with cheddar cheese
And fresh tomato and lettuce
Bison is fairly low in fat compared to ground beef, but it’s full of flavor.
Cut one watermelon in half lengthwise and scoop out the melon
Chop and toss the scooped-out melon with a little chopped mint and refill the empty watermelon half
Drizzle with a touch of balsamic vinegar
Serve it ice cold.
This is just one idea for a great, light and very easy lunch or dinner. And there are hardly any dishes to do at the end—score.