Richards’ dish wasn’t made with bad ingredients, of course, just misfit or “ugly'' produce that, while perfectly safe to eat, is often ignored by consumers. It was all part of the college’s first-ever “Ugly Food Challenge.” Chefs from Ithaca College, Cornell University, and Maines Paper and Food Service Inc. competed to make the top plant-based dish, complete with an edible plate.
“Sustainability is the whole reason we are doing this,” Richards said. “To bring light to what food can be and to change the game up.”
The emphasis on sustainability is a component of the college’s strategic plan. A second tenet — the importance of partnerships — was also front and center. The event was put on by Jessica Valicenti ’19, with the help of the college’s Center for Civic Engagement, Offices of Energy Management and Sustainability, and Dining Services.
As an Americorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) member, Valicenti works on campus to address food insecurity at Ithaca College and within the Ithaca community.
Maines Corporate Executive Chef Jonathon Merrick won the challenge, taking home the coveted Golden Jackfruit. Merrick created a beet tartare, playing off the traditional steakhouse beef tartare. Ithaca College chef Jack Applegarth came in a close second.