UVU Culinary Arts student wins West Region Student Chef of the Year


Wellington native Lyn Wells has been named the Chef of the Year at the American Culinary Federation’s Western Regional Conference.

Utah Valley University culinary arts student Lyn Wells has been named the 2013 Western Regional Student Chef of the Year. The senior from Wellington, Utah, won the competition, held April 12-15 in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho, as part of the American Culinary Federation’s, or ACF, Western Regional Conference.

Wells is the first UVU student chef ever to win the prestigious accolade.

“I came to UVU not knowing anything and now three years later I’ve got a gold medal hanging around my neck,” Wells said. “UVU has come such a long way. People in the culinary world used to laugh at us but now they really recognize what we’re doing. We have great chefs as teachers and this is what we do, we compete and we win.”

The ACF Student Chef of the Year Award recognizes an up-and-coming student who possesses a high degree of professionalism, culinary skill, and passion for the culinary arts. At the regional competition, competitors had just 60 minutes to prepare two portions of a main dish from scratch that incorporates a whole bone-in chicken.

Well’s winning dish was entitled “Chicken Compose” which consisted of roasted breast, chicken and potato croquette, pepper and prosciutto roulade, chicken crackling and chicken fat poached potato tournГ©, roasted King Oyster and Idaho moral mushrooms, roasted eggplant and squash with tomato fondue, spring horseradish pur3ee, and mushroom fortified chicken jus.

A panel of distinguished judges selected the winner, announced at the awards gala Monday, April 15. As the Western Regional finalist, Wells will know compete for the national title and $1,000 in Las Vegas.

When finished, one of the five judges who had watched her every move stated, “Wow. We as judges learned some things from this young lady. She has techniques that none of us have ever seen before. And by the way, it was delicious.”

“Lyn epitomizes what we want all of our students to become,” said Peter Sproul, UVU Culinary Arts Institute department chair. “She has worked so hard. I couldn’t be happier. She is a great representative of what we do at the UVU Culinary Art Institute, and she will continue to represent UVU well. In fact, she is our best chance at bringing home UVU’s first ever culinary National Championship.”

Wells holds and associate degree in culinary arts from UVU and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management this spring. She began in her family’s restaurant as a dishwasher and busser and worked her way up to line cook by high school. Wells started competing in ProStart competitions as a teenager, which led to her decision to attend culinary school. Since enrolling in UVU, Wells has competed in three hot food competitions as a member of the university’s culinary student team. She has received four gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze medal in ACF-sanctioned competitions. In July 2012, she served as an apprentice for the 2012 ACF National Pastry Chef of the Year, Adalberto Diaz, CEPC, the winning chef.

After graduation, Wells wants to hone her culinary skills working with various chefs across the nation and, when she is ready, open her own restaurant. Wells is a member of ACF Beehive Chefs Chapter, Inc.

The 2013 ACF Western Regional Conference, hosted by ACF Chefs de Cuisine of the Inland Northwest, brought hundreds of chefs, cooks, and food service professionals to Coeur d’ Alene. The conference provided attendees with opportunities to advance their professional development and enhance their culinary skills through business seminars, cooking demonstrations featuring the latest trends and techniques, cooking competition, and awards.

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