North Georgia has a star in its midst.
Chef Craig Lefevre, a cook at the North Georgia Dining Hall, is moving into the finals of the Southern region Aramark Culinary Excellence competition this month.
Lefevre has been working at the dining hall for about three years, and hopes to make cooking his career.
When meeting Lefevre, he is modest and easy to talk to. Lefevre said, “I think the reason I went towards cooking is that my family gatherings are all about eating. I come from a long line of people who love to cook.”
He enjoys spending time with his family and learning new techniques and recipes.
“Our previous district chef, Brian Phillips, personally invited me to the competition,” said Lefevre. Other than his family, Phillips has been one of the biggest influences on Lefevre.
“Brian Phillips felt like he could take me under his wing. He wanted to teach me things, and I wanted to learn,” said Lefevre.
Lefevre moved through the three preliminary rounds at the University of Central Florida, the University of South Alabama and the University of Tennessee without too much trouble.
“In the first round we got to pick what we wanted to cook, so it was basically what I do every day,” said Lefevre. He won the silver medal in the last preliminary round and is approaching the finals with a level head.
About the upcoming finals, Lefevre said, “I’m not nervous, but I’m not overly confident. I’m not going to over think things, I’m just going to go cook.”
He and eight other chefs will be given a “mystery basket” with ingredients, and share a pantry with the rest of the choices. They will then create a three-course meal with the different options in only four hours. They must then present them to the six judges, hoping that theirs is the tastiest.
When asked what his favorite thing about cooking was, he replied, “I like being able to see something at a raw state, plain, and being a part of changing it into something people enjoy eating.”
He also says that his favorite thing to cook is, “any kind of chicken,” because he finds it easiest to work with. He has even created a few recipes of his own, including, “bacon, ricotta, and spinach stuffed chicken,” and, “bacon wrapped mushrooms with a twist.”
These and other impressive recipes are what he comes up with when he has to improvise.
If Lefevre is one of the top three, he will get to compete against eight other regions at the Aramark Culinary Excellence National Challenge in June. Everyone will be vying for the prestigious “Copper Pot” award.
After the competition, no matter the outcome, Lefevre plans to attend culinary school in Marietta. He hopes that he can continue cooking meals that keep people coming back for more.