Culinary Services hosted its annual Culinary Cup and Bake Off competitions on June 17 at The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips. During the Culinary Cup competition, 18 teams representing each dining neighborhood and Spartan Hospitality Group competed for the chance to be named Culinary Cup champions.

The competition was divided into five flights: four teams competed in the first three flights and three teams in the fourth and fifth flights. Each winning team from the first five rounds competed in a final round of competition.

During the first round, team members were tasked to create a dish with lump crab meat, mini bella mushrooms, pink grapefruit and bran cereal. The Pilot Lights team, Eduardo Sanchez and Patrick Burnett, from Heritage Commons at Landon were named winners of round one.

During the second round, teams competed to create a dish that incorporated fresh asparagus, chorizo sausage, feta cheese and pitted prunes. Congratulations to the Brody Hot Tamales, Jose Almaguer-Leal and Almeta Kelley, from Brody Square for winning the second flight.

During the third round, teams competed to prepare a dish using ground turkey, fresh pineapple, kale and home-style biscuits. Team Food Artist, Michelle Gary and Alex Cinzri, from The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips were named winners of the third round.

Teams in the fourth flight were tasked to create a dish with pork breakfast sausage, boysenberry jam, corn muffin tops and jicama. The Gourmet Assassins, Jared Hurst and Dejuan Everett, from The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips won their way to the final round.

The final flight of teams competed to prepare a dish made with bacon, ricotta cheese, raisings and Idaho potatoes. The Pinky and the Brain team, Lisa Cox and Jenifer Rodriguez, from East Neighborhood Dining took the last spot to compete in the final round.

Each winning team competed in the final round to prepare a dish incorporating chicken breast, bloody Mary mix, green seedless grapes and cashews. Congratulations to the Brody Hot Tamales team, 2015 Culinary Cup champions!

Also during the competition, 14 teams submitted baked goods for the Bake Off. Congratulations to Rebecca Swab and Krista Roland of Spartan Hospitality Group—the winners of the 2015 Bake Off—for their winning Founder’s Porter chocolate cake!

A big thank you to Sharon Butler, MSU assistant vice president for human resources; Mike Dawisha, RHS CIO; and Mike Kolar, assistant director of admissions, for judging the 2015 Culinary Cup competition.

On June 18, Culinary Services chefs showcased their culinary skills at the Chefs Culinary Challenge. Chef teams of two were divided into two flights. Each winning team from the first two rounds competed in a final round of competition to prepare a dish incorporating pork tenderloin, fig cookies, red cabbage and white kidney beans. Congratulations to the Lunch Ladies team, Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski and East Neighborhood Executive Chef Jason Strotheide, winners of the 2015 Chefs Culinary Challenge!

Photo collage of the winning cake and dish from the competitions and the winning Culinary Cup and Chef Challenge teams.

To view more photos from the events, click here.


The 20th Annual Board of Water and Light Chili Cook-off will take place this Friday, June 5, at Adado Riverfront Park from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Teams from Residential Dining, South Neighborhood and The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips are set to compete – their sights set on a gold ladle!

During the event, teams from local restaurants, businesses, non-profits and organizations compete for the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau Hospitality Award or for the gold, silver or bronze ladle in categories including: Best Chili, Most Creative Chili Name, Most Creative Chili Booth, Best Salsa, Best Meatless Chili and Best White Bean Chicken Chili. Proceeds from the event benefit Impression 5 Science Center/Adopt A River, the H.O.P.E. Scholarship Connections Program and the Sparrow Foundation.

The South Neighborhood team competed against other Culinary Services Neighborhood teams in a Chefs Council Chili Cook-off this past March. Their brisket chorizo chili took first place and earned them the ability to represent Culinary Services. The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips also competed and is representing Culinary Services for best salsa with a roasted vegetable salsa.

The Chili Cook-Off theme this year is Chiliwood – a Hollywood theme. The Culinary Services booth will be decorated with a Hollywood Walk of Fame theme, complete with make-your-own-Hollywood-star activity.

Stop by booth 13 at the BWL Chili Cook-off to support our teams! In addition, there will be live music played by local musicians and bands, a merchandise tent and a chili dog eating contest.

Past BWL Chili Cook-off booth
The Gallery at Snyder/Phillips BWL Chili Cook-off booth in 2013.

National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month

By Gina Keilen, Culinary Services Registered Dietitian 

June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month. I don’t think you need a dietitian to tell you that fruits and veggies are good things to eat … that’s a pretty known fact. But where some of the hang up might be is in the fresh part.

While this time of the year, fresh fruits and veggies in Michigan are either at their prime or just around the corner, there are many months in Michigan when that’s not the case. So how can you get around that? If they aren’t in season, consider buying them canned, frozen or dried.

Getting fruits or veggies in forms other than fresh is not a bad thing at all. It might actually be better for you. Especially in the months when Michigan produce is not the best, those alternatives were packed or dried at their peak nutritional value so they are likely to have more vitamins and minerals than off-season fresh foods. Not only that, but buying produce out of season can be costly and with most people on college campuses counting pennies, the other varieties may help. Canned, frozen or dried fruits and veggies also have longer shelf lives. There is nothing more disappointing than buying so much fresh food with good intentions, just to throw them out because you didn’t eat them before they spoiled.

June is getting us closer to fresh produce in Michigan, though. Farmers markets are opened, grocery stores are highlighting local farmers, the MSU Student Organic Farm is working hard as usual. Keep an eye out for the Bailey GREENHouse & Urban Farm to start supplying some produce for Brody’s salad bar. There is fresh fruit (both whole and cut up) available in all our dining halls at all three meals. Try topping your pancakes or waffles with fruit or add it to cereals, dig into a freshly made smoothie, pile on the veggies in your pasta bowl or stir-fry, or visit Sparty’s for a veggie cup or 100 percent fruit and vegetable drink. The new salads offered with Combo-X-Change is a great way to get your veggies in! 

It doesn’t matter which way you eat your fruits and veggies … something is better than nothing and if it gets you to eat them, that’s a good thing!

Gina Keilen pull quote.

Gina Keilen is a registered dietitian and culinary coordinator for Culinary Services. If you have food allergies or intolerances, or are required to follow a special diet, Gina can help provide you with resources and information to help you make safe choices while still having a great dining experience when you Eat at State. Gina can also help you to eat healthy—our dining halls offer an incredible amount of all-you-care-to-eat options. Since many of our platforms offer made-to-order dining, you are in control of what you eat and how much, and Gina can help you decide what is right for you.


By Peggy Crum, MA, RD, Health4U Nutritionist

Photo of perchMeasured against their perch family cousin the walleye, yellow perch are small fries, 4 to 10 inches in length and weighing ¼ to ½ pound. Also called perch or lake perch, adding color to their name makes it aptly descriptive of this yellow-bodied fish with prominent dark vertical stripes. They travel in schools and move shoreward each morning and evening. This feeding pattern and the fact that they will bite on just about anything makes them the most frequently caught game fish in Michigan.

If you’re not fishing, just buying, check out farmers markets in Meridian Township, East Lansing and Flint for yellow perch transported fresh from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There are eight to 12 single fillets per pound. They appear translucent, not white or cloudy, and not fishy smelling. Keep them well-chilled until ready to prepare.

To best appreciate the mild flavor of this firm-fleshed fish, be sure to keep the preparation method simple. A traditional cooking method for yellow perch is to pan fry it. I particularly love a light breading mix of flour, fine-grind cornmeal and seasonings (paprika, white pepper and salt).

First, remove the skin from each fillet using a very sharp, thin-bladed knife: hold onto the tail skin with one hand and insert the knife blade between the skin and the flesh, move the knife blade quickly away from your holding hand to remove the fillet from the skin.

Next, soak the fillets in milk while preparing the breading mix and oil. Thoroughly preheat a heavy pan over medium heat then add canola oil. Roll each fillet in the flour mixture and place in the hot oil. Leave the fillets plenty of room to swim around in the oil, in other words, don’t crowd the pan. Cook until golden brown. Serve with an acidic garnish such as a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of dill sauce.

Join Culinary Services Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski from 12:10 - 12:50 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, at the Demonstration Kitchen in Brody Square as he demonstrates his perch with mango salsa during the Health4U Recipe for Health programTry the perch during lunch at Brody Square and Riverwalk Market at Owen Hall.

Can’t make it to Brody Square for the event? Join us online for an MSU Alumni Association LENS live stream presentation. Learn more by watching this trailer and view the live stream here:


On Saturday, April 25, the Michigan State University on-campus Starbucks team braced cold weather and wind to participate in a community service project working with the City of East Lansing Environmental Stewardship Program.

The team cleaned up flower beds and planted new flowers at the East Lansing Soccer Complex donor gardens located on Coleman Road. Twenty student volunteers weeded, edged and planted perennials that will pop up each spring at the complex.

Heather Surface, environmental stewardship coordinator for the City of East Lansing Parks, Recreation and Arts Department, shared that the department has received several “thank yous” for the efforts put forth by the Environmental Stewardship Program and the MSU Starbucks team.

“We are proud to partner with the City of East Lansing Environmental Stewardship Program,” said Michelle Pell, MSU Culinary Services Starbucks service manager. “The MSU Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement connected us with the program last year, when the Starbucks team cleaned up White Hills Park. The partnership is fun and rewarding and we look forward to another community service project next semester.”

To view photos from the project, visit the East Lansing Healthy Parks Facebook page.

Starbucks team members cleaning flower beds at East Lansing Soccer Complex.