Chicken roulade stuffed with hazelnuts and pears, a soufflé with goat cheese crisps, tournéed root vegetables, and pan-seared chicken with au jus.
All made to perfection. All made in just one hour.
That's what Lyndsay Burginger, 20, has been practicing for the past six weeks: for that one hour, when Burginger will compete to be the American Culinary Federation's Western region student chef of the year.
“I feel really proud that I'll be able to compete and get our school's name out there,” she said.
Burginger is a second-year student at the Cascade Culinary Institute at Central Oregon Community College. On Monday, she will compete in Reno, Nev., against three other students. Burginger is the first student from the culinary program to participate in a contest of this size.
“We're nervous for her,” said Thor Erickson, chef instructor at the culinary institute. “But we're not nervous because of her. We have complete faith in her skills.”
The competition challenges students to showcase their creativity as well as their culinary prowess. In one hour, students must create a dish with a three-pound chicken using their own recipes. Students are judged on competency, organization, technique, sanitation and taste. The goal is to show mastery over as many cooking techniques as possible.
“The biggest thing will be just showing myself that I can do it,” Burginger said.
During the past five weeks, Burginger has been spending two days a week in the institute's demonstration kitchen, perfecting her recipes with the help of instructors. Last week, she increased the number of practice runs to two to three times each day.
“I compare it to rehearsing for a play before opening night,” Erickson said. “It's about repeating, refining and making the material your own.”
Burginger plans to make four separate items during the competition, using difficult techniques such as a tournée cut for her root vegetable dish, which involves trimming the vegetables into oblong shapes. She will be using Oregon ingredients for almost everything, utilizing locally grown hazelnuts and pears, goat cheese made by Tumalo Farms, and spirits made by Clear Creek Distillery.
If Burginger wins, she will qualify for the national competition in Orlando, Fla., in July, where she has the chance to win $1,000 and the prestige of being ACF's student of the year.
“It's her excitement for the industry that I think qualifies her,” said Gene Fritz, executive chef and director of the Cascade Culinary Institute. “They could see that she was committed to it from early on. When they see her, they see a rising star.”
Originally from San Diego, Burginger moved to Bend five years ago. She attended Bend High School, and was in the ProStart culinary program there.
“In high school I found that I really loved cooking,” Burginger said. “And then I just threw myself into it.”
Burginger will obtain her degree in restaurant management at the end of this year, and will then take an internship in Orlando at a Walt Disney World resort. Her instructors, who describe her as a motivated student who excels in all her classes, are expecting great things from the young chef.