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USC chef earns top honor at regional cooking competition

David Teal went up against fellow chefs from nine other universities. Next up: nationals

Chef David Teal

Chef David Teal took top honors at the regional competition in Santa Cruz on March 28. (Photo/Courtesy USC Hospitality)

Usually Chef David Teal is cooking up tasty treats for students at the Everybody’s Kitchen dining facility. Over the weekend, though, he was cooking for judges at the National Association of College and University Food Services’ Pacific Regional Conference — and brought home the gold medal.

Teal represented USC Hospitality in the culinary challenge March 28 in Santa Cruz; he earned his ticket to Santa Cruz earlier this year in a campuswide competition between other USC Hospitality chefs. His win in Santa Cruz advances him to the national competition July 23 in Indianapolis, where he will represent the Pacific Region.

The mandatory protein for the this year’ culinary competitions is buffalo flank steak. Teal’s self-created recipe, Coffee Rubbed Buffalo Flank Steak with Parsnip, Bulleit Caramel, Arugula and Rogue River Blue Cheese, met the strict standards of the association and  American Culinary Federation certification process that includes scores for organization, skills and cooking technique and taste. A gold medal means very high points in each category and mastery of kitchen organization.

Winning dish

The winning dish: Coffee Rubbed Buffalo Flank Steak with Parsnip, Bulleit Caramel, Arugula and Rogue River Blue Cheese. (Photo/Courtesy USC Hospitality)

Teal faced fierce competition from nine other universities including crosstown rival UCLA. “It’s not easy to put yourself and your skills on stage for all to see and critique,” said USC Executive Chef Eric Ernest, who works closely with all USC chefs and is responsible for their training and development. “David’s commitment to culinary excellence has paid off and he has done USC Hospitality proud.”

Teal was cheered on by USC Hospitality associates attending the educational conference. His win was met with deafening shouts and yells with hands in the air displaying the “V” for Victory salute.

“David’s passion and commitment to technique paid off,” said Eric Russell, USC associate director of residential dining. “I continue to be impressed by his dedication and ability to deliver on the plate.”

USC Hospitality chefs continue to shine both on and off campus. Chef Joshua Trovato, also from Residential Dining, is maintaining his presence as a competitor on Fox’s Hell’s Kitchen.


About USC Hospitality 

USC Hospitality is a division of USC Auxiliary Services and operates over 30 food and beverage venues on the University Park and Health Sciences campuses as well as two off campus venues, and also offers full-service catering. For more information, visit the division’s website.

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