Chef places at World Food Championships
For her day job, Chef Carol Koty works as the dining services coordinator at Brookdale Senior Living in Wilton. In her spare time, she’s working towards becoming a celebrity chef.
In early November, the Stratford native (who recently moved to Naugatuck) got one step closer to her goal when she placed second in the seafood category of the World Food Championships in Alabama.
The annual World Food Championships is the largest competition in “food sport.” Mike McCloud, CEO of World Food Championships and self-proclaimed “commissioner of the league,” describes food sport as “the pinnacle of food competition.”
“Cooks and chefs face off against each other, against the clock, with tough challenges as well as tough weather conditions, like humidity … like in all sports, our competitors have to overcome those obstacles and perform no matter what,” he said.
Competitors must apply to qualify in a category (Koty chose seafood) and if they make it, they compete in three rounds. The winner of each category then competes at a later date for the title of World Food Champion. This year, 501 teams from 14 countries and 43 U.S. states competed.
Koty cooked three seafood dishes: whiskey red curry mahi with crab mango salsa and pina colada rice, seafood pot pie, and fried grouper roulade with crab filling and lobster pilaf.
“Carol stood out from the opening round because she executed her challenge dish well, and then delivered a phenomenal signature dish,” McCloud said.
Her signature dish, seafood pot pie filled with lobster, shrimp and scallops, earned her a perfect score from the judges. She will be making it for the residents at Brookdale in December.
“My residents are very honest and love hearing about my competitions and tasting them,” she said.
Koty has competed in the World Food Championships six times, and this is her first time making the top 10 in her category — which means she automatically qualifies to compete again in 2019. She plans to compete in seafood again.
“I cook a little of everything but seafood is where I feel at home. I’ve done other categories and I don’t feel same connection with them as I do with seafood,” she said. Koty studied to be marine chemist but said she realized she wanted to “cook the fish rather than grow them.”
Koty hopes food sport will open doors for her to get her own Food Network show as it has for others — numerous chefs who competed in World Food Championships have gone on to make TV appearances. Koty has already competed in Guy’s Grocery Games and applied for other shows on the network.
“The ultimate goal would be to have my own show on the Food Network; that would be everything,” she said. “But in the meantime, doing competitions has been an amazing opportunity for me to grow because it constantly pushes me to do better and be more creative, and I can network with talented people.”