A-B Tech Culinary Team

The team (L to R): Chef Chris Bugher (coach), Josh Waters (captain), Chef Stephen Hertz (coach), Roman Norse, Patricia Santibanez, Emmer Moraza, and Michael Welsh.

Student Culinary Team Scores a Silver Medal and Best Appetizer

A-B Tech’s Student Culinary Team earned a Silver Medal a at the American Culinary Federation National Finals on Aug. 5, 2021.

A-B Tech Culinary Team
The team (L to R): Chef Chris Bugher (coach), Josh Waters (captain), Chef Stephen Hertz (coach), Roman Norse, Patricia Santibanez, Emmer Moraza, and Michael Welsh.

This was the 12th trip to the nationals for an A-B Tech team, the most appearances for any culinary school in the United States.

Josh Waters, team captain.
Josh Waters, team captain.

Led by captain Josh Waters, the team consisted of Michael Welsh, Emmer Moraza, Patricia Santibanez, and Roman Nourse. They were awarded Best Appetizer for their sunflower seed-crusted mullet with creamy grits, tasso cream sauce, seafood sausage, and a tomato-watermelon relish prepared by Welsh.

“For one of our team members to get best appetizer is something really special,” said Waters.

Asheville native Waters attended TC Roberson High School before enrolling at A-B Tech. He has been working in a restaurant since he was 16 and decided he really wanted to get in the kitchen. Welsh, a good friend of his, convinced him to join the culinary team, where his leadership skills were impressive.

The competition requires student teams to demonstrate butchery and knife skills and then prepare a four-course signature meal consisting of a fish appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert. All competing teams this year are creating a regional menu to show off the cuisine of their area.

“They won on so many levels—their organization, their teamwork, their graciousness with other competitors, and comradery,” said Cathy Horton, Chair of Culinary and Hospitality at A-B Tech. The team was coached by chef instructors Chris Bugher and Stephen Hertz.

“We are incredibly proud of this team. They have come so far and are really inspirational,” said Hertz.

Hot food competitors are judged on such criteria as the flavor, taste, texture, and doneness of their foods; serving methods; portion sizes, and creativity. Floor judges also evaluate their organization, sanitation, teamwork, workflow, and cooking techniques and knife skills.

“It was a humbling experience being able to compete at the national level, and we are all extremely happy and proud of the efforts we put in as a team. I think I can speak for just about everyone that we all really want to do more competitions and progress and grow as young culinarians and rising chefs,” said Waters.

About A-B Tech Community College

Founded in 1959 in the heart of Asheville, A-B Tech is the largest higher education institution in Western North Carolina, serving more than 23,000 students a year in Buncombe and Madison counties. One of 58 community colleges in the NC Community College System, A-B Tech offers more than 125 degrees, diplomas and certificates, as well as a wide range of workforce training and continuing education programs.

A-B Tech includes the main Asheville campus, A-B Tech Enka (home of the A-B Tech Small Business Center and Business Incubation Program, Craft Beverage Institute of the Southeast and N.C. BioNetwork), A-B Tech Madison, A-B Tech South, A-B Tech Woodfin and the Goodwill Center in West Asheville.

Learn more at abtech.edu.

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