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OCC-affiliated chefs cook up honors at Culinary Olympics

November 8, 2012

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Chef Doug Ganhs took home a gold medal for his buffet platter presentation and a bronze medal for his fruit carving display, pictured, in the Culinary Olympics.

FARMINGTON — Nine local chefs from the Michigan Olympic Culinary Team sliced, diced and cooked their way to seven medals during this year’s International Culinary Exhibition — also known as the Culinary Olympics — in Erfurt, Germany, Oct. 5-10.

Held every four years, the Culinary Olympics pit more than 1,500 cooks and confectioners from 54 countries against each other to compete for medals in both team and individual categories.

The Michigan Olympic Culinary Team competed in only the individual competitions this year and returned home with three gold, one silver and three bronze medals.

“Michigan has a long history of doing very well at the (Culinary) Olympics. We’ve had a team since 1988,” said chef Doug Ganhs, captain of the Michigan Olympic Culinary Team and a faculty member at the Oakland Community College Culinary Studies Institute.

Participating in the Culinary Olympics was not a new experience for Ganhs, of Livonia, who took home a gold and a bronze in the 1996 competitions and competed — along with six students from Macomb Community College — in the 2000 Culinary Olympics, taking home one gold and five silver medals collectively.

“The Culinary Olympics push you to the limit and kind of test your talent to keep you fresh and updated in the industry,” he said. “These are some of the best of the best. They are the trend-setters, so you see some really unique food from all over the world.”

This year, Ganhs snapped up a gold medal for his large buffet platter of cold food and six plated appetizers.

“The platter that I made was all pork, and it was a mixture of different terrines, sausages, pickled vegetables, individual potato salads, pumpernickel crackers with corn mousse, and there was a broccoli salad,” he said.

Ganhs also won a bronze during the 2012 Culinary Olympics for his fruit carving display in the culinary artistry cold food showpiece category.

“I just purchased food that I could find in the markets over there and carved all through the night and put my stuff on the table. It was something I practiced, but it wasn’t something I practiced as much as the food displays. I do teach a fruit and vegetable carving class at OCC, and years ago, I was on The Food Network for a food carving competition, so it’s kind of always been a talent of mine and a goal to carve over there,” he said.

OCC Culinary Studies Institute adjunct faculty members Brian Beland and John Miller took home gold medals for their cold buffet platters and six plated appetizers.

Although Beland, the executive chef of Country Club of Detroit, made the trip to the Culinary Olympics for the fourth time this year, this was the first time he’s competed as an individual. The three previous years, he served as an apprentice. Beland was thrilled to win a gold medal for his autumn chicken platter and various appetizers this year.

“All the main components on there were based off of chicken, using seasonal ingredients. I used a lot of things like butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, cranberries, carrots, pears, apples and other autumn-bounty harvest type flavors,” he said. “My appetizers were all similar food that I would cook normally and do for various high-end wine dinners. They range anywhere from rabbit to venison to a lobster-and-crab salad.”

Others on the team also fared well. OCC graduate Sarah Rougeau, of Oakland Hills Country Club, won a silver medal in the same category, while Shawn Loving of Schoolcraft Community College and Gabriel Vera, executive chef at Lena in Ann Arbor, took home bronze medals.

OCC students Steve Valenti and Karen Hoffman served as team apprentices, while OCC graduate chef Randy Smith of Walnut Creek Country Club was team manager.

The OCC Culinary Arts Institute is located at 27055 Orchard Lake Road 
in Farmington Hills. Accredited by the American Culinary Federation, the institute offers degree and certificate programs and teaches everything from contemporary American and international cuisines to baking, ice carving, management principles, guest services and beverage operations. For more information, visit

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