Executive Chef and Bakeshop Director at Colorado State University Receive Culinary Awards

Students at Colorado State University can be even more assured that the food served in their residence halls is created by highly skilled and experienced individuals thanks to several awards recognizing the dining services staff.

The university’s Dining Services executive chef and bakeshop director received culinary awards at the 2005 National Association of College and University Food Services, or NACUFS, Regional Conference March 14-17 in Laramie, Wyo. The multi-state competition hosted representatives from 11 states during the NACUFS Continental Region contest and recruited judges from across the country.

Dining Service’s Executive Chef Karl Bendix, who has worked at Colorado State for five years, was awarded a silver medal in the "Culinary Challenge" with a lamb tenderloin dish he prepared in the 70-minute competition. Bakeshop Director Joan Smith, who has worked at Colorado State for about 20 years, was awarded the bronze metal in the "Bakery Challenge" with her colorfully decorated quilted pillow cake she decorated in 70 minutes.

"This recognition speaks volumes for the talents of both Karl and Joan," said Jim Dolak, executive director of Housing and Dining Services. "This competition also shows the emphasis that our dining services staff place on providing a quality experience and atmosphere for students at the university."

Competitors in the culinary challenge had to create an original dish of lamb using their own ingredients. Bendix, one of seven competing chefs in the competition, created a hoisin and sesame glazed lamb duo with potato galette and a fresh vegetable garnish. Bendix, who also entered the competition in 2000, did not consider becoming a chef until he was hired after his two-year apprenticeship under Shannon Hyashi, an owner and instructor at a former restaurant in Fort Collins called Pasta Plus.  

Individual competitors in the baking competition were required to decorate a cake for this year’s festive occasion, "Blazing New Trails." The decor was chosen by the competitor and had to be edible. Smith, who grew up in the baking business, began her apprenticeship under her father, who owned a bakery, at the age of 10. At age 13, Smith was decorating wedding cakes, and since then, she has been largely self-taught.

Prizes for the Culinary Challenge included an engraved trophy and a gift certificate. Prizes from the Bakery Challenge included a chef’s coat, pant and hat, a book on working with chocolate, cake stencils, and tools for shaping chocolate and fondant structures.