Two School of Culinary Arts alumni, both employees of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Delaware North Companies, competed in the 2008 Internationale Kochkunst Ausstellung (IKA), or International Culinary Exhibition, in Erfurt, Germany, last October.
Ambarish Lulay (‘03), chef de cuisine at The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park, Calif., and Rick Ortiz (‘03), executive sous chef for fine dining at Soldier Field in Chicago, competed in the “A” category of the cold-foods competition, which requires chefs to present six appetizers and a platter for eight people, prepared hot but displayed at room temperature, glazed. Lulay earned a silver medal for his entry, and Ortiz won a diploma.
The IKA, hosted by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS), is commonly known around the world as the Culinary “Olympics,” and takes place the same year as the Winter and Summer Olympic Games. More than 30 countries participate in the quadrennial event that launched more than 100 years ago. U.S. teams compete under the auspices of the American Culinary Federation (ACF), which represents the United States in WACS.
Lulay and Ortiz were coached by Roland Henin, CMC, Delaware North’s corporate chef and chief culinary ambassador. Henin, one of fewer than 70 ACF-certified master chefs in the United States, is a highly regarded culinarian with significant coaching experience at the international level. Delaware North is one of the largest privately held companies in the United States, with revenues exceeding $2 billion annually and 50,000 associates serving half a billion customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
Lulay’s platter at the IKA, titled “Tasting of Popular Asian Flavors,” featured Peking-style duck galantine, Thai coconut/mushroom terrine with cilantro and spiced vegetable raita and other specialties. His appetizers were based on common Asian street food such as samosas, octopus and quail lollipops.
The victory was especially sweet for Lulay. His parents traveled from India and his wife, from their home in Yosemite, to see the president of the German Chefs Association place a medal around the chef’s neck. “I’m not here to win a medal,” Lulay said earlier in the day. “I’m here to do the best I can.” As it turns out, he achieved both.
“He’s someone to watch out for,” says Henin, who first met Lulay when the chef was a student at Kendall College. Lulay later served as a professor in the School of Culinary Arts before joining Delaware North.
Ortiz enrolled in Kendall College’s culinary-arts program in Evanston, Ill., upon graduating from high school in 2000. While at Kendall, he studied in Marseille and Aix en Provence, France, assisting Master Chef Renee Burgees at his two-star Michelin restaurant, Relias Sante Vectoir. While in France, Ortiz also had the opportunity to work for La Truffle Noir, a high-end catering company. Upon completion of his externship, he received a scholarship for his academic achievement.
Following graduation from Kendall, Ortiz immediately went to work at Courtwright’s Restaurant in Willow Springs, Ill., where he honed his skills. Ortiz later moved to a number of other kitchens in Chicago, gaining experience and earning more responsibility along the way. He joined the Sportservice team in 2004 as the sous chef. In 2006, he made the transition to executive sous chef for the fine-dining operations. At Soldier Field, Ortiz oversees production for 133 executive suites and 135 VIP all-inclusive skyline suites. In addition, he manages The United Club buffet, which serves 750 guests in a two-hour span.
One of Ortiz’ recent and notable accomplishments was creating and executing the menu for the Olympic Committee that is considering Chicago for the 2016 Games.
Jeremy Jacobs Jr., executive vice president of Delaware North and the force behind the company’s campaign to be the most respected culinary company in the world, described the chefs’ accomplishments as “phenomenal” after the final awards ceremony in Germany. “You exceeded all of our expectations,” Jacobs told the chefs.