Ghanaian wins 2021 American cooking competition

BY: Graphic Business
 Jonathan Gabriel Larmie,  student, Accra Technical University, receiving a prize from Chef Gary Lane
Jonathan Gabriel Larmie, student, Accra Technical University, receiving a prize from Chef Gary Lane

A student from the Accra Technical University, Jonathan Gabriel Larmie, has emerged the overall winner of the 2021 American National Cooking Competition.

He is also the first male to win the competition since its inception in 2015.

The 21-year-old got a total of 223 points and took home a big size chest freezer and a four-month industrial internship opportunity at the Labadi Beach Hotel under the supervision of Chef Gary Lane. His school also received a chest freezer.

Presenting the award to Larmie at a dinner ceremony at Labadi Beach Hotel, Chef Gary Lane reminded the competitors that there were no losers in the competition but an opportunity for them to practice what they learned in their daily activities.

“What we do is very important in life because you can’t live without food, food is life”, he said.

Anita Abbey of Koforidua Technical University emerged the first runner up,  while Edward Ekow Asankoma Sam of Sunyani Technical University emerged the second runner up. They took home an industrial cake mixer and a four-burner gas stove oven, respectively.

The competition
This year’s American National Cooking Competition took place at the Flair Catering Institute, Cantonment, Accra on Friday, 13th August, 2021.

All eight Technical Universities took part in the competition with their selected best student chefs and a runner. Participating Technical Universities were Accra Technical University, Kumasi Technical University, Koforidua Technical University and Tamale Technical University. The rest are Cape Coast Technical University, Takoradi Technical University, Sunyani Technical University and Ho Technical University.

The competition, which is in its fifth year, was organised by the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council (USAPEEC).

The USAPEEC has been at the forefront of helping build professionals within the hospitality sector through their innovative training and cooking competition among Technical Universities in Ghana.

USAPEEC also seeks to promote the consumption of wholesome chicken as an essential nutritional component of human food with essential minerals and micro-nutrients for growth and wellbeing. The slogan from USAPEEC is simply “Eat more chicken!”.

Virtual Training – 2021
COVID-19 and its associated restrictions meant that students could not be congregated at a designated place to undergo the training. USAPEEC, therefore, devised a means to reach students with the all-important training. Through this innovation, USAPEEC simultaneously connected all eight technical universities to the world-renowned Chef David Bonom’s kitchen in New York, USA, and a total of over 1,400 students benefited from the two-day virtual training through Zoom on the 4th and 5th August, 2021.

The virtual training afforded the students the opportunity to learn about American processed eggs (egg powder), chicken, duck and turkey. 

Background
The first edition of the competition was held in 2015 at the Kumasi Technical University (then a Polytechnic) and Miss Sophia Ekua Hammond of the Kumasi Technical University emerged as the overall winner. The winning prize allowed for Sophia to travel to the United States of America for a week of training at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), New York.

The second edition was held at the Flair Catering Institute in 2016 where Miss Rejoice Akukumah Mayoe of the Koforidua Technical University emerged as the winner.

The third edition was also held at the Flair Catering Institute in 2017 where Miss Josephine Ngenba-Engaa of the Tamale Technical University won.   Both Rejoice and Josephine also travelled to New York for training at ICE, a prestigious culinary institution. Their experiences and exposure were reported to be a huge success and also a life changing experience.

ICE was named the “Best Culinary School in America” with chef-instructors from top restaurants and food businesses, giving students 100 per cent hands-on opportunities to grow and develop students’ personal strengths and passion.

The fourth edition held in 2019 was also won by Evelyn Benyiwa Yankson from the Ho Technical University. Evelyn’s prize was a six-month fully paid industrial attachment with Ghana’s premium five-star hotel, Labadi Beach Hotel, who were sponsors of the prize.