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KNOXVILLE — Move over Iron Chef, the regional ARAMARK Culinary Excellence (ACE) Challenge is coming to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, on March 29.

The ACE program allows the opportunity for chefs from colleges, universities, and conference centers around the country to showcase their culinary skills in a competitive environment. Eleven chefs will compete at UT, and one will advance to the finals in Tampa, Fla.

Volunteer Dining is already preparing for the ACE competition.

The competition begins at 11:00 a.m. at Presidential Court Café. Each chef will have four hours to prep, cook, and serve their meal. They will each prepare an entrée, side dish, and dessert for the judges and students.

“It’s UT’s own version of Iron Chef. You get to watch the chefs prepare the food,” said Mary Leslie Patterson, UT ARAMARK’s marketing director.

The competition is open to UT students, faculty, and staff to try each chef’s dish. The cost is $5, and students can use their meal plan to pay. Each diner will be asked to vote on their favorite dish. UT Chef Jason Timmons will compete in a regional competition being held at the University of South Alabama next week. He will prepare a “deconstructed cheeseburger” with candied bacon and homemade mustard and ketchup. His dessert is a pineapple upside-down cake.

Here is a sneak peek of the chefs who will be competing at UT on March 29 and some of the dishes they will be preparing:

  • Robert Binder, Florida State University: fried pork loin with red pepper sauce; warm honey balsamic pineapple with crispy bacon
  • David Geyer, North Georgia College and State University: smoked tilapia; spiced chocolate cake
  • Craig LeFevre, North Georgia College and State University: the quick jerk; coconut kisses
  • Sharon Green, Delta State University: seasoned chicken breast with peach chutney; strawberry dumplings in a chocolate sauce
  • Joe Hart, King College: weiner Schnitzel with parsley potatoes and sautéed cabbage; pineapple strawberry bruschetta
  • Christian Drouin, University of Florida: chicken Florentine; fresh fruit Bouche.
  • Mark Smith, University of South Florida: chicken Catalina; white chocolate bread pudding
  • Pat Hines, Mississippi State University: Pat’s southern smoked chicken; Pat’s butter roll
  • Kevin Yarbrough, University of Memphis: citrus seared pork; fresh apple tart
  • Glen Pugh, Middle Tennessee State University: jalapeno stuffed chicken; Glen’s cheesecake
  • Beau Gerarde, East Tennessee State University: Italian pork loin with basil pesto and red pepper risotto; caramel apple puff

C O N T A C T :

Julia Gillette ( 865-974-2125 865-974-2125,

Amy Blakely ( 865-974-5034 865-974-5034,