Culinary-arts student Marco Bahena is headed to Spain, and he’s taking his rabbit tapa with him.
Bahena will compete against 13 students representing 11 nations and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico in the second-annual International Culinary Schools Tapas Competition in Valladolid, Spain, November 8-12.
What are tapas? Born in Andalusia as small appetizers or snacks served in drinking establishments, tapas have transcended the original slices of bread and meat accompanying glasses of sherry to become popular offerings in eateries worldwide. Tapas range from the simple—olives or cubes of ham and cheese—to the sublime.
Bahena—who consulted with Chef Michael Fiorello of Mercat a la Planxa, the Chicago restaurant owned by Philadelphia chef, restaurateur and Kendall alum Jose Garces—will prepare his porcini rabbit rack composed of pan-seared rack and loin of rabbit with Dijon mustard and porcini-mushroom powder, paired with a rabbit-rillette cube on a crisp of manchego (Spain’s most famous cheese) with black-garlic aïoli and saffron-scented cherry marmalade.
“I wanted to highlight products from the Midwest and, specifically, Chicago’s Green City Market,” says Bahena, who will be accompanied in Spain by Chef Renee Zonka, R.D., CEC, CHE, associate dean and managing director of Kendall’s School of Culinary Arts. “I am most excited about this competition because of the very unique opportunity to cook alongside people from all over the world. It gives me the ability to not only learn more about Spanish cuisine, but to get a taste of different flavors and cooking styles from many different cultures.”
Here’s wishing Bahena every success abroad!