A University of Wyoming Washakie Dining Center chef recently won the silver medal at a regional cooking competition.

Chef Mathew Branson won a third place silver medal in the National Association of College and University Food Services Culinary Challenge on March 20th in Salt Lake City, Utah, according to a press release.

UW Dining Staff attend the Continental-Pacific regional conference every year and this year, Branson was selected to compete in the NACUFS Culinary Challenge. Branson trained for months leading up to the challenge with help from his mentors, RLDS Dining Director Reggie Conerly and Associate Director Becce Ford.

As part of the challenge, chefs in the competition had an hour to prepare and an entrée featuring a combination of littleneck clams, whole squid, and oysters. Entries are judged on organization, cooking skills, culinary technique, taste and style.

Branson’s winning dish, titled “Fruit of the Sea,” featured smoked seared calamari stuffed with citrus clam grits with a citrus clam sauce, red wine sauce, fried oysters and crispy tentacles, Cornell grits, a diced root vegetable medley, all garnished with allumette orange rind.

UW Photo

‘The challenge made me a lot stronger and I gained a lot of new colleagues,” Branson said in a statement. “It’s awesome to see all the chefs take three of the same proteins and each one have a different take on it. It was an adrenalin rush and a very proud moment for me, my family, and Washakie.”

The NACUFS is an organization that supports the college and university food service market by providing members with the programs and resources needed to excel, from best practices to professional networking and educational programming.

Branson has worked for Residence Life and Dining Services for four years.