S&D Coffee & Tea Hosting Carolinas Cookin’ Student Challenge

Johnson & Wales University Charlotte chefs-in-training compete for cash prizes, top honors in sixth annual S&D Culinary Challenge

  • Students present Carolinas-inspired recipes featuring coffee and tea extracts
  • Semifinals Taste Test judged by esteemed panel held Jan. 29
  • Finalists battle in live culinary finale March 15

CHARLOTTE, N.C., January 14, 2016 – Concord-based S&D Coffee and Tea (S&D), the largest supplier of coffee to restaurants in America, is hosting its highly competitive annual Culinary Challenge at Johnson & Wales University (JWU), but this year there’s a local twist. For the sixth annual competition, culinary students enrolled at school’s Charlotte campus are paying homage to the Tar Heel state’s culinary roots and presenting their best Carolinas-inspired creation to earn a spot in the competition.

Students were invited to submit original recipes using S&D coffee and tea extracts, with twenty submissions making it through the first round of judging. These students will go on to compete in the Culinary Challenge Semifinals Taste Test, held Jan. 29 at the university. Students’ dishes will be judged by a panel of culinary innovators, local chefs and restaurateurs including Clark Barlowe, owner of Heirloom; Jon Fortes, owner of Flipside Café; Jim Noble, owner of Jim Noble Restaurants, LLC, The King’s Kitchen and Rooster’s Wood-Fired Kitchen; and Luca Annuziata, owner of Passion8. Chefs Barlowe and Fortes are proud JWU graduates.

“Every year, we are blown away by these young chefs and their unique and artistic approach to incorporating our products into award-worthy culinary creations,” said John Buckner, vice president of marketing at S&D. “From the Blue Ridge Mountains to the Carolina Coast, our state has a lot of variety in its culinary cookbook and we’re excited to see how the students interpret the challenge and share what Carolinas Cookin’ means to them.”

The ten hand-selected students who pass the semifinals will be paired with a notable chef mentor and then compete at the Culinary Challenge’s live culinary event on March 15, held in Hance Auditorium at Johnson & Wales’ main campus, 801 W. Trade Street in Uptown. The top student chef chosen that evening will receive a $5,000 grand prize and the winner’s chef mentor will receive a $5,000 donation to go to the mentor’s charity of choice. Seven other students will also receive cash prizes.

“Johnson & Wales is continuously grateful for this on-going partnership with S&D and all it brings to our students, staff and institution,” said Tarun Malik, vice president at JWU. “It’s through unique opportunities like this that we’re able to offer the real-life culinary experiences students need to be competitive and successful in the foodservice industry.”

At the March 15 finale, an all-star panel of judges and an auditorium filled with student colleagues will watch the finalists prepare their dishes and make formal presentations, much like reality TV cooking competitions so popular today. For more information on the competition, please visit facebook.com/sndcoffee.