March Mushroom Madness teaches students to make innovative dishes

March Mushroom Madness teaches students to make innovative dishes

Antonio Salcido, Staff Writer

City College culinary arts students cooked rare and exotic mushroom dishes for the fourth annual March Mushroom Madness.

A total of 37 people attended, including local entrepreneurs and mushroom enthusiasts for the fundraiser held by Santa Barbara Culinary Arts, a non profit organization.

Randy Bublitz, culinary arts department chair, and his students prepared all the food for the evening.

“Students were introduced to new ingredients that they normally would not get to work with,” said Bublitz. ”For those who go on to work at high end restaurants…this will be right up their alley.”

The menu was created by Bublitz and consisted of black trumpet mushrooms with potato gratin, pan seared venison with port and morel mushrooms, Korean roast salmon with oyster and shiitake mushrooms, roasted beef tenderloin with Madeira mushrooms and truffle glaze, porcini risotto and black truffle with egg.

Authentic, French black truffles cost around $1000 per pound. To be able to cook such a delicacy is a privilege.

“I’ve never done a catering event before, but it is good hands on experience,” said first year culinary student, Rachel Dooley. “I made the risotto, the longest dish to make…we started cooking at three and weren’t completely done till seven.”

The event was held Monday, March 18, in the John Dunn Gourmet Dining Room.

In addition to the mushroom dishes, the evening also featured a presentation from mushroom expert Bob Cummings, a former biology professor at City College for 41 years.

Cummings introduced different types of mushrooms from all over the world and referred to fungi as a “kingdom greatly overlooked.” He showed celebrity “look-alikes” to emphasize the subtle differences between edible and poisonous mushrooms.

Cummings said it is a real problem and an untrained eye can lead to sickness or death. Cottage Hospital relies on Cummings’ expertise whenever they get a patient who has ingested poisonous mushrooms.

Students are required to have 27 hours of catering per semester as part of the catering class, intended to give students experience in the field.

For most of the students it was their first year in the culinary program; “A Mushroom Madness first,” said Santa Barbara Culinary Arts Co-President, Cory O’Neill.

“I was very nervous… but it has been an interesting experience,” said culinary student Tyler Baio.

Despite being culinary newcomers, the students performed like professionals and received glowing remarks on their work.

“The students outdid themselves,” said Gretchen Hewlett, Santa Barbara Culinary Arts board member and City College Liaison. “My favorite was the salmon…the sweetness and softness of the fish made it a nice complex dish.”

The event cost $55 for Santa Barbara Culinary Arts members and $65 for non-members. O’Neill expects to raise up to $2500. Approximately 40% of the proceeds will go to the Julia Child Endowment fund that allows for one or two culinary students to receive a scholarship each year.

“For me it’s a great cause,” said Guy De Mangeon, owner of The Berry Man Inc. who sponsored the event,” I am very proud to participate and sponsor this event and we’ll keep on doing so.”