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Chef Jason Smith wins IACC-Americas 2014 Copper Skillet

Jason Smith, head chef at Preston’s restaurant at The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center in Blacksburg, VA was the winner of the US position in the IACC-Americas qualifying cook-off and the right to represent the United States at the International Association of Conference Centres’ 11th annual Copper Skillet Cooking Competition.  The event was held at The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center in New Brunswick, NJ on January 24. 

Other chefs from IACC chapters in North America, Europe, and Australia Asia-Pacific will join Chef Smith at IACC’s 33rd annual conference at Pacific Palms Resort outside Los Angeles, CA in March to vie for the prestigious title of International Conference Centre Chef of the Year.   

IACC has long recognized the vital role that food service plays in conference center operations.  This competition was introduced in 2004 to highlight the artistry and skills of IACC-member conference centre chefs from around the world and to honour their contributions to the shared goal of providing an exceptional meeting experience.

Born in Floyd, Virginia, Chef Jason’s culinary expertise was honed at a number of notable establishments such as Chateau Morrisette Winery, and The Homestead Resort.  Jason continues to demonstrate his culinary talents that started with his classic Italian roots nad now include his love for island and tropical blends.  He is an advocate of incorporating local produce, meats, fruits, spices and herbs into his menus to further the local farm-to-table movement. “Food is more than something that fills you up,” says Jason ““it's what makes people happy.”

Chef Jason’s winning dish was a crispy-skin striped bass and garlic herb-crusted loin of lamb. It was served and presented to the judges over a winter hash of purple Peruvian potatoes, carrots, Portobello mushrooms, rainbow Swiss chard, and granny smith apples. It was finished with a citrus thyme and Dijon beurre blanc. 

Other IACC-Americas chefs who competed included John Billings from Eaglewood Resort & Spa, Itasca, IL; Shane Brassel of The Charles F. Knight Executive Education & Conference Center in St. Louis, MO; CJ Chambers of The Heldrich Hotel & Conference Center, New Brunswick, NJ; David Diedrich, The Johnson Foundation at Wingspread in Racine, WI; Mike Jackson from Deloitte University-Benchmark Hospitality, Westlake, TX; Timothy Ralphs of Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs, CO; Corey Siegel from Dolce Norwalk in Norwalk, CT: and Steven Van Stone from Northpointe Hotel & Conference Center in Lewis Center, IL.   

Distinguished local judges included Dan Soloway from Union Square Hospitality Group, Eric Levin, Senior Editor for New Jersey Monthly, and Francis Schott and Mark Pascal of Stage Left Restaurant & Catherine Lombardi Restaurant of New Brunswick, NJ.  Judges evaluated the dishes based on originality of the creation, technique, presentation, textures, balance of flavor combinations and hygiene of the work station.

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