Boulder culinary students gather in Broomfield to compete and show off their skills

Aug. 9—Farm fresh peaches, microgreens, beets and other local foods decorated a set of three tables at the Broomfield Farmers Market on Tuesday where culinary students from Boulder raced against the clock to prepare a set of dishes for a discerning panel of judges.

A crowd of onlookers gathered at the tables, eager to watch the student chefs prepare their meals, and maybe even sneak a sample when all was said and done.

The Iron Chef competition gave the teams $60 in "market bucks" to collect ingredients from the market vendors and only one hour to prepare an appetizer and an entree.

The competitors were made up of three teams of two, all of them students at Boulder's Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. The students have been preparing for the event for weeks, visiting the market to get a peek at what they'd have to work with and make a loose plan of what they'd be preparing.

"One team has practiced their dish three times already today, and at least once a day for the last week or so," said Richard Jensen, culinary lead instructor. "They really work through the timing, making sure that dish can be completed within the hour."

Jensen explained that the students have to learn to tackle challenges and think quickly, and that the added pressure of a limited amount of money to spend on ingredients makes for an excellent challenge for the training chefs.

Teammates Emily Rudberg and Gavin Larson prepared a ribeye with a raspberry beet gastrique and Hasselback potatoes alongside a tomato salad with a garlic, shallot and peach vinaigrette.

"I got into the restaurant industry right after high school," Larson said. "My parents were pushing me to go into the military but I knew it wasn't what I wanted. Now that I'm here, I'm so happy. We have a great team and we all love to cook."

The next team was Arlo Arnold and Jonathan Roytbak, who prepared stuffed yellow squash and zucchini with a sausage ragu that included shallots, bone broth and red wine.

"During COVID I got into some trouble, and that's how I found my way into the kitchens," Roytbak said. "After graduating from Florida State University, I really didn't want a desk job. I can't sit still at a desk in one place for hours, and that's how I decided to go to culinary school."

The final team was Xavier Sanchez and Chris Diaz, who prepared a New York strip with a shallot and garlic balsamic reduction, alongside a roasted peach salad with a peach vinaigrette and finished with some trail mix.

When the hour time limit was reached, all three teams presented their creations to a panel of judges including a food tour guide, the cofounder of the Broomfield pizza restaurant iPie and a representative of the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

After a tense few minutes of eating and deliberation, Rudberg and Larson's ribeye and tomato salad took home the victory.

The judges sent Rudberg and Larson home with $90 worth of gift cards, and emphasized that all three teams did an excellent job. If the crowd's excitement and enjoyment of the samples were anything to go by, all the student chefs made incredible and creative dishes in the face of a myriad of challenges.