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Jason Timmons

KNOXVILLE—Watch out, Bobby Flay. Move aside, Paula Deen.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Jason Timmons is in the kitchen and he’s cooking up some prize-winning fare.

Jason Timmons
Chef Jason Timmons, right, received the top prize at last week's South Regional ARAMARK Culinary Excellence Challenge Finals.

The Volunteer Dining chef took the top prize at last week’s South Regional ARAMARK Culinary Excellence (ACE) Challenge Finals held at Berry College in Georgia.

Timmons, who has worked at UT for a year, is the executive chef at Varsity Inn in Gibbs Hall. He is a graduate of Johnson and Wales University in Charleston, South Carolina.

Timmons and the other competitors were asked to prepare a meal from a basket of “mystery ingredients” that included a whole duck, head-on shrimp, globe artichoke, baby bok choy, enoki mushrooms, lentils, raw peanuts, figs, and mascarpone cheese.

“We had a whole pantry of standard items you’d find in a kitchen that we were allowed to work with in addition to those nine items,” Timmons said. “I kind of came in with a game plan, a rough idea of what I’d do depending on what was in the basket.”

Timmons’ winning meal consisted of Mexican stewed duck with spicy lentil and artichoke puree, chive and shrimp white rice, bok choy and sautéed enoki mushrooms, and fresh pico de gallo. His dessert was butter nut cake with stewed figs and apples topped with a coconut crusted cinnamon cayenne mascarpone mousse.

“It came out well, and it tasted good. I was really pleased with the dessert,” he said.

Timmons qualified for the regional finals by winning a preliminary ACE competition with his “deconstructed cheeseburger” and pineapple upside-down cake. He now will represent the South Region in the ACE finals in November in Florida.

Timmons is following in the culinary footsteps of Presidential Court Executive Chef Greg Eisele, who won the regional gold medal in this competition in 2006, the silver in 2007, and the bronze in 2011. He went on to win the national silver medal last year.

This year, about 150 ARAMARK chefs from colleges, universities, and conference centers around the country are competing in the ACE finals to win the coveted “Copper Pot.”

For more information on Volunteer Dining, visit

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,