Paterson, New Jersey – Aug. 8 Students from The Culinary School at Eva’s Village competed last week in the first-ever Kontos FoodsCulinary Challenge #KFCC17, and the results were delicious. The 27 students from the vocational school were divided into three teams and competed in a timed, “Chopped”-style contest to invent new ways to prepare Kontos International Pastry Puffs. Working with the round, pre-made Pastry Puffs, the teams were asked to create two savory dishes and two sweet dishes. The results spanned spun-sugar birds’ nests (a cotton-candy-esque filling) to pecan pie and mango puffs. Savory dishes included a deep fried chicken potpie and Greek-inspired lamb puffs.
The caliber of the dishes was all so impressive, said the judges, Kontos Foods Corporate Executive Chef Demetrios Haralambatos, and Chef James Cwynar, Culinary School Director at Eva’s Village, that they couldn’t decide on a clear winner. Steve Kontos, owner of Kontos Foods, a Paterson, New Jersey-based provider of artisan breads and traditional Mediterranean foods, decided all the students were winners and announced that all the contestants should be awarded the winning prize of a monogrammed chef’s jacket, sending cheers up from the crowd.
Kontos explained the history of the International Pastry Puff, known as Loukoumades in Greek culture. While it’s a relatively new product from Kontos Foods, International Pastry Puffs are considered a favorite dessert in Greece. “To the Greeks, it’s like Apple pie,” he said. And while he’d seen many interpretations of how a pastry puff could be prepared across many cultures, “Today I saw the American interpretation.”
“The creativity I experienced here today blew me away,” added Chef Haralambatos, adding that he didn’t expect the beginner chefs to handle such sophisticated techniques as spun sugar or pralines. Additionally, the diversity of the dishes Chef Cwynar credited to Paterson being “a melting pot,” and drawing from cuisines such as Southern, Jamaican and South American.
The Culinary School at Eva’s Village is a six-month vocational program, and many of the students even came in over the weekend prior to tryout recipes they planned to present during the Kontos Foods Culinary Challenge. Kontos Foods is planning to feature the recipes created during the event on its website and at upcoming events. Additional images are available upon request.
About The Culinary School at Eva’s Village: The Culinary School at Eva’s Village was established in 2013 as a private vocational school for adults, certified by the Departments of Education, and Labor and Workforce Development. The focus of the six-month program is to train and place students in culinary careers in the food service industry. Professional chef instructors guide students through the six-month course, in a state-of-the-art training kitchen. Students earn a certificate of completion and ServSafe® Certification. The program reports a 92 percent job placement rate.
Eva’s Village: Founded by Msgr. Vincent E. Puma in 1982, Eva’s Kitchen began by serving 30 meals a day to feed the hungry in Paterson. In response to the related issues of poverty, addiction, mental illness and homelessness, programs and services grew out of the original soup kitchen to address the root causes as well as the effects of homelessness and poverty. Today, Eva’s Village is a non-profit, comprehensive, social service organization which offers 20 programs to address needs in the community for food and shelter, medical and recovery services, and education and job training, to help those in need move toward stability and independence.
About Kontos Foods
Founded in 1987, Kontos Foods, Inc. is a Paterson, New Jersey-based provider of artisan breads and traditional Mediterranean foods for restaurants, hotels, food service, retail specialty stores and supermarkets worldwide. The family-owned company specializes in hand-stretched flatbreads, including the Kontos Pocket-Less Pita®, Fillo dough, pastries, olives, gyro meats, and Greek yogurts, as well as nearly 50 varieties of multi-ethnic flatbreads. Kontos, which has over 225 employees and was founded by Evripides (Evris) Kontos with his son Steven, together bring over 100 years’ experience in the premium food industry. The company’s bread and Fillo products are made in the USA. Visit www.kontos.com or call (973) 278-2800.