S&D Culinary Challenge WinnerConcord, N.C.-based S&D Coffee & Tea (S&D) announced that Johnson & Wales University (JWU) Charlotte freshman Gillian Howard took top honors in its highly competitive annual S&D Culinary Challenge, held Feb. 24 at the school’s uptown Charlotte campus. The student chef, a native of Memphis, Tenn., wowed a distinguished panel of judges and a packed auditorium with her hometown-inspired dish titled “A Tennessee Date Night,” coffee-infused date cake with tea and lemon ice cream, and walked away with the grand prize of $5,000.

Students were invited to submit original recipes using S&D coffee and tea extracts, with 10 submissions making it through to the finals round. Local culinary celebrities Jenny Brulé, chef and food writer, and Jim Noble, founder of Jim Noble Restaurants LLC, The King’s Kitchen and Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen, served as chef mentors to the finalists preparing them for the head-to-head battle in the live cooking finale.

“During Gillian’s demo, her passion and sincerity came across loud and clear to everyone in that auditorium,” said John Buckner, vice president of marketing at S&D. “Each year we’re blown away by the talent and creativity of these young chefs and their eagerness to make a mark on the foodservice industry in Charlotte and beyond.”

Gillian served in the United States Air Force for seven years before enrolling at JWU this past winter semester.  

The complete list of all the winners from the 2015 S&D Culinary Challenge are as follows:

  • Grand Prize Winner ($5,000) Gillian Howard, freshman, Memphis, Tenn., Tennessee Date Night (coffee infused date cake with tea and lemon ice cream)
  • 2nd Place ($1,500) Joy Turner, junior, Lancaster, S.C., Coffee’s Aggressive Side (bacon-wrapped chicken livers with coffee gastrique)
  • 3rd Place ($750) Tracy-Ann Mitchell, sophomore, Portmore, Jamaica, Meat-luffin (meatloaf muffins with mashed potato topping and coffee and tea flavored vegetables)
  • Best Breakfast Recipe ($250) Mikquell Nell, sophomore, Baltimore, Md., Chai Tea Waffle with Lemongrass Apple Butter and Chai Spiced Whipped Cream
  • Facebook Fan Favorite ($250) Joy Turner
  • Best Demo Presentation ($250) Gillian Howard

For more information on the competition, visit facebook.com/sndcoffee.

SOURCE: S&D Coffee & Tea