Over 425 students at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida recently sautéed, roasted and baked their way through the biggest cooking challenge of the semester – the Techniques of Food Production lab practicum. The practicum required students to use the basic cooking techniques learned throughout the semester to produce and present a three-course-meal as their final exam.

Students worked together in teams of four to prepare and serve an appetizer, entrée, and dessert to a panel of judges, who graded each team’s meal based on five categories, including presentation; portion size & nutritional balance; menu & ingredient compatibility; creativity; and taste, flavor, texture & doneness.

“The exciting part of these practicums for both instructors and students is to realize how far they have come in just a semester,” said Dr. Kevin Murphy, one of the seven faculty members teaching Techniques of Food Production this term. “Most students could not cook or handle a knife at the beginning of the semester and now they can prepare restaurant-quality food.”

Students dished out everything from apple walnut salad and pasta fazool to beef tenderloin and roasted red pepper & chicken pizza to chocolate covered lamingtons and rum raisin bread pudding.

“At the beginning of the semester, students are usually hesitant about taking the class because they have never really cooked before,” said chef instructor Katherine Wilson. “But by the time the practicum rolls around, students are excited and proud to share what they have learned.”

UCF’s Rosen College hosted 18 lab practicums this semester, with each one crowning a winning team.

The lab practicum was initiated nearly 30 years ago by the college’s first-ever faculty member, the late Robert Ashley. Professor Ashley tragically passed away this semester at the age of 65.