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Battle of the chefs

April 1, 2011

By Hailey Silvey, Staff Writer

Chef Andy Ledbetter cooks up some BBQ for last week's cook off. Photo by Leila Shearon

This year, students have been treated to four cook-offs between two chefs in the Rollins Dining Hall, but does anybody really know the men behind the food? Chefs Andy Ledbetter and Allen Clark are no strangers to serving up tasty dishes for each cook-off.

Originally from New Orleans, Ledbetter attended culinary school in Orlando. Before arriving at YHC, Ledbetter received cooking experience in New Orleans, Orlando and South Carolina.

When asked how long he has been cooking, Ledbetter responded, “Honestly, about all my life. I would guess I probably started around age 12.” Being from New Orleans, Ledbetter says that his specialty is Cajun food of any kind.

It wasn’t until 2006 that Ledbetter came to YHC as a chef.

Chef Allen Clark, general manager of Rollins Dining Hall, started cooking in the kitchen of his parent’s restaurant around age 12.

Chef Allen Clark served up Texas style smoked brisket for the cook off. Photo by Leila Shearon

Originally from Texas, Clark did not begin seriously cooking until around the age of 23. Clark, unlike Ledbetter, did not attend culinary school. Clark went to college to be an engineer, but he didn’t like being an engineer. “I was good at the school part, but not the engineer part,” Clark said.

Though still in his first year at YHC, Clark has cooked in multiple restaurants, including New York City restaurants, such as The Four Seasons and the Sea Grill. Clark’s most recent job before he came to YHC was cooking for the Atlanta Braves. With a range of cooking experience, Clark says his specialty is sauces and sautéed dishes.

“I’m really good at layering flavors, so that you go from one flavor to another while still getting a unified whole,” Clark said.

As a competitor in last Wednesday’s BBQ cook-off, Clark prepared a Texas style smoked brisket. Ledbetter cooked up a pulled pork with bourbon peach BBQ sauce.

This year there have been four chef cook-offs, including gumbo, lasagna, shrimp and grits and BBQ.

Ledbetter won the gumbo and lasagna cook-offs, while Clark won the shrimp and grits cook-off. Last Wednesday’s BBQ cook-off resulted in a 66-21 vote in favor of Ledbetter’s dish.

Though Ledbetter’s dish won in votes, both dishes were enjoyed by students.

Maggie Neal, a freshman from Elberton, sampled both dishes and while they were different styles, she enjoyed them equally.

“I’m used to eating pulled pork, but I thought the brisket was quite delightful.  I might branch out next time I get BBQ and go for beef.”


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