Food and Education Mingle at SUNY Cobleskill’s Culinary Extravaganza
Devon Mintzes, a senior Culinary Arts Management student at SUNY Cobleskill, loves to cook, but there’s one thing she enjoys more: the smile on people’s faces as they relish a great meal with good company.
That’s why she’s thrilled to help fellow SUNY Cobleskill students serve guests at this year’s Culinary Extravaganza, the college’s annual farm-to-table feast. This will be her second year at the Extravaganza, where students work side-by-side with top culinary talent from the Capital Region and beyond and SUNY Cobleskill Culinary Arts professors to turn local, seasonal ingredients into mouthwatering dishes.
“I love to see people’s expressions and see them enjoy themselves,” Mintzes said. “It’s incredible how many people go to support the students, and how many people come to participate and be part of this community.”
This year’s Culinary Extravaganza, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13 at SUNY Cobleskill, will feature 18 talented chefs preparing locally sourced appetizers, entrees and desserts along with wine and beer tastings. The event benefits SUNY Cobleskill academic programming and scholarships, with 50 percent dedicated to supporting the Culinary Arts program.
Last year’s Extravaganza raised more than $23,000. A live fundraiser raised an additional $40,000 toward a professional brewing system for the college’s new fermentation science programs as well as a large-batch freezer that allows students to transform campus-produced milk into ice cream, gelato, and sorbet. The first batch of the campus-made ice cream will make its debut at this year’s Extravaganza.
Last year was also Kathleen King’s first Culinary Extravaganza. An alumna of SUNY Cobleskill and founder of the nationally renowned Tate’s Bake Shop, King knows a thing or two about culinary excellence. Tate’s is habitually named “Best Bakery” in the Hamptons and is no stranger to high-profile coverage in outlets like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
The Extravaganza made such an impression on King that she will return this year to lead it as honorary event chair.
“I was so impressed with the dedication of the students and teachers, combined with fantastic food and incredibly fun, welcoming people,” she said. “There are so many things that the students can learn from established chefs that are not in books or classes. This is priceless.”
Guests, like King, come to the Extravaganza for many reasons — to support SUNY Cobleskill students, to mingle with foodies, to meet new people — but they all leave raving about one thing: the food. A guest at last year’s Extravaganza could jump from Peking-style duck tortillas to ricotta en carozza with sweet roasted red pepper puree to seared ahi tuna sliders and top it off with a pumpkin cannoli and taste of local vodka — and that would barely scratch the surface.
Among the returning chefs this year will be Yono Purnomo, owner of Yono’s Restaurant in Albany, who always delights with his warm, generous personality and his award-winning, Indonesian-inspired contemporary American cuisine.
“The food is incredible,” Mintzes said. “Last year I got to walk around and taste everything and it was all delicious. I can’t wait to see wait they’ll have this year.”
Ryan Brooks of Brooks’ House of BBQ, which won the 2016 James Beard America’s Classic Award, has brought his signature barbecue to the Culinary Extravaganza for years. Brooks loves hearing guests share their stories about Brooks’ BBQ, which his family has operated for three generations, and he loves sharing his expertise with SUNY Cobleskill’s chefs-in-the-making.
“It all comes down to the students, faculty, staff and the chefs that volunteer a lot of their time to not only support the event but guide our future in this great industry,” Brooks said. “They all put a lot of time and effort into it from ground to ceiling, kitchen to plate. These efforts result in a very organized and flowing night behind the scenes, giving the guests a night to remember.”
For this year’s Culinary Extravaganza, Brooks will bring his “notorious” Brooks’ BBQ chicken, ribs, pulled pork and coleslaw with an undisclosed “surprise” in the mix — the curious will have to come to the Extravaganza to find out what he has planned. And, like Mintzes, Brooks is looking forward to the company of delighted diners on Oct. 13.
“What brings me back each year is the people and especially the new faces,” Brooks said. “There is nothing better than watching the amazement of the guests coming through the doors and the pride on the students’ faces for making this all happen.”
2017 Culinary Extravaganza Celebrity & Alumni Chefs
Ryan Brooks, Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Que
Josh Coletto and Noah Sheetz, The Chefs’ Consortium
Antony Daou, Black Cat Cafe
Joan Dembinski, CC®, Yono’s
Rob Handel, Heather Ridge Farm Bees Knees Café
Michael Kaphan, Purdy’s Farmer and the Fish
Margi Neary, MOSdelicious
Norm Phenix, 204 Main Bar & Bistro
Angelo Sgarlata, The River Stone Manor
Keith Stanton, Chieftans Restaurant & Bar
Caroline Torres, Bull’s Head Inn
Tim Warnock, CCSP®, US Foods
Malcolm Jay Wood, Coby’s
Lee Woolver, American Hotel
David Campbell, CCC®, CCE®, Michael Lapi, David Yanisko CEC®, SUNY Cobleskill
Friday, October 13 from 6 - 9pm
Tickets are $75 each
RSVP by October 3