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Chef from Cumming claims title

POSTED: August 13, 2011 1:30 p.m.
For the Forsyth County News/

Pastry chef Alex Hwang competes at the American Culinary Federation National Convention, where she took home the award as top pastry chef in the country.

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A Cumming resident was recently crowned the nation’s top pastry chef.

Alex Hwang, assistant pastry chef at Cherokee Town and Country Club in Atlanta, earned the title of 2011 Pastry Chef of the Year during the American Culinary Federation National Convention.

“Of course I’m really happy about it, but it’s all pretty overwhelming,” she said.

Hwang was one of four competitors for the title. She was chosen to represent the Southeast region of the United States after qualifying events. The other chefs represented the Central, Northeast and Western regions.

“I always think there’s a 50-50 shot of winning,” she said. “But it’s hard to imagine actually winning. I thought I’d just practice a lot and do my best.”

During the competition, held late last month in Dallas, Hwang and her apprentice, Cynthia Romstadt, had just two hours to prepare and serve three items: a plated dessert, an enrobed miniature pastry and a sugar showpiece at least 18 inches tall.

“My apprentice really helped a lot,” Hwang said. “I couldn’t have done this without her.”

One twist to the competition was a mystery box that held four surprise ingredients chefs had to in some way incorporate into their dishes.

Hwang was chosen as the winner because of her dishes’ flavor and her skill set.

Patricia Nash, one of the judges, praised Hwang’s creations.

“[Her] composed plate and miniature pastries were well balanced in flavor, texture and skill execution,” Nash said in a statement.

“Her sugar showpiece was clean and showed various techniques within the medium.”

Hwang’s showpiece featured a fantasy theme, using blues to look like water, tropical flowers and butterflies.

“Since summer is really hot and everyone is tired, I wanted to do something that felt like a vacation, without actually going on vacation,” she said.

Besides her title, Hwang also received a medal and $5,000, for which she hasn’t made any plans.
“I can’t imagine anything yet,” she said.

Hwang relocated to the United States from South Korea in 1992 to begin her career.

She said her family still lives in her home country, so she received much support from her husband and in-laws.

“They all watched me get skinnier and skinnier during all these practices,” she joked. “They were really happy when I won.”

Her title is a lifetime one, so she won’t get the chance to compete again at the national convention.

“That’s part of it. Once you win, you don’t get to compete there again,” she said. “But I’m satisfied at this point and I will do other competitions.”

 

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