Richard Simon, head chef at The Family Table, 960 W. State Road 42, Brazil, brought home two bronze medals as recognition for his culinary talents.
Judges awarded Simon the culinary medals earlier in September after he participated in cooking competitions through the Art Institute of Indianapolis.
"It was fun. It got to see other high caliber chefs from the nation at work and received critiques that were inspiring as well as constructive," Simon told The Brazil Times.
The contests were organized by a professional culinary group called the American Culinary Federation of the Greater Indianapolis Chapter (ACF).
Simon, an active member of ACF and a three-year Brazil resident, has been attending the institute for a year, but has been cooking most of his life.
"I was always curious when my mom cooked for our family when I was younger," Simon said. "I was the oldest sibling and I was always looking after my younger siblings so I had to cook a lot when I started watching them."
Simon represented the art institute in the contest as one of the top culinary students.
The first contest took place Sept. 14, at Conseco Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, and was a "mystery basket," where chefs couldn't bring their own ingredients.
"They had a store room where they provided all the ingredients for us, and what they had was limited," Simon said. "We just had to use whatever was there."
He competed as a student against 11 other chefs, both students and professionals.
Simon prepared two portions of his egg-coated chicken breasts with a tomato and mushroom cream sauce served over basil garlic fettuccini and vegetables sautéed in garlic.
Three judges offered Simon compliments and constructive criticism regarding the meal he prepared and his overall cooking habits.
"One portion was for display and the other portion the judges tasted. They liked the taste and temperature of the food and complimented me on my knife skills," Simon said. "I served tourned carrots and mushrooms, which is when you cut the vegetables to have seven equal sides."
Simon added the judges did deduct points for cluttering his work station with pots and pans and not being as organized as they'd like.
During the contest, each participant had 15 minutes to set up, one hour to cook, 15 minutes to clean and 10 minutes to plate their food.
The judges gave scores based on organization, sanitation, taste and work habits while cooking, such as cutting with the right methods and cooking with correct temperatures.
The second competition was similar to the first, except Simon and the other participants could bring their own ingredients.
To ready himself to compete, Simon practiced cooking his dish five times, guided by chef instructors at the institute.
Simon received his second bronze medal Sept. 21, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, where he prepared another pasta dish.
This time, his meal of choice was chicken stuffed with broccoli and cheese, topped with roasted pepper cream sauce and served over spinach basil fettuccini with mushroom and onion campo and boiled carrots.
"The bronze medal will be a stepping stone and standards for further and future improvements," Simon said. "I am happy with the results, but will continue progressing. It's for my own self-enrichment and advancement."