(DANVILLE, KY) – Six students from the Kentucky School for the Deaf (KSD) placed third in the 2019 Deaf Culinary Bowl in Las Vegas over the weekend.
The Def Chefs, as they call themselves, consist of seniors Sarah Joiner and Aeiral Collins, juniors Layne Adkins, Plah Meh and Benny Shirley, and sophomore Mi’Keyla Crumble. Seven schools from around the country competed at the event.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, who serves as superintendent for KSD, congratulated the team members for their accomplishment.
“I’d like to commend the Def Chefs team for their amazing work this year as they prepared for the Deaf Culinary Bowl,” said Lewis. “The students and their culinary teacher, Mandy Byrne, have accomplished so much and have put the School for the Deaf on the map with this impressive win.”
Before the students could head out west, they first had to compete to make KSD’s team.
“There were basic culinary skills that they had to demonstrate.” said Byrne, culinary teacher at the school. “We had judges that came in and scored them.”
Once the team was assembled, it was time to prepare for the competition. The theme was “Viva Las Vegas” and there were some rules that the Def Chefs had to follow.
“We were given Atlantic salmon as our appetizer.” Byrne said. “We had to use pork tenderloin as our entree and we had to use a dark chocolate block with our desert.”
With that in mind, the chefs got to work. They created a menu that began with Marryin’ Sam’s Atlantic Salmon (served on a bed of wilted spinach, maple bacon dressing and cheese fan), followed by Rock ‘n Roll Pork Roulade (pork tenderloin stuffed with spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and chimichurri sauce) served with Double or Nothing Chimichurri glazed Vegetables (roasted asparagus, carrots, zucchini and squash) and finished off with Dragon’s Delight (deconstructed s’mores with marshmallow fluff, chocolate panna cotta and crumbled graham crackers).
KSD finished third overall, third in entree and third in appetizer. They finished second in floor, which is judged by their safety, sanitation, skills and teamwork. Joiner was the recipient of the All-star Award for KSD, as well.
Although the Def Chefs were there to compete, it also was a welcomed experience to spend time with students from the other schools. Byrne emphasized the importance of her students being able to socialize with their peers from around the country.
“The opportunity to compete against other deaf students is really important to them,” she said. “They have a really strong relationship with those peers through social media. Anytime that they get to spend time with them really bonds them together within their culture.”
While on the trip, KSD’s students attended the International Pizza Expo, which also was being held in Las Vegas.
“We visited many different vendors, tasted new foods, were introduced to new vocabulary and even offered suggestions to make tools more deaf friendly. “ Byrne said.