July 26, 2023

Lakes Region Community College (LRCC) is thrilled to announce its second consecutive participation in the SkillsUSA national competition held in Atlanta, GA. The college’s first-year Culinary Arts student, Keller Grissom, has made his community proud with an extraordinary performance, securing an impressive fourth-place finish among twenty-two fierce culinarians from across the nation.

Having earned a gold medal at the state level, Grissom decided to elevate his culinary prowess by crafting an entirely new and innovative dish exclusively for the nationals. Among his culinary creations were delectable delights such as mushroom parsnip consommé, roasted cornmeal-encrusted shrimp, chorizo cheddar mornay sauce drizzled over roasted potatoes, and exquisitely braised chicken, to name just a few.

The SkillsUSA competition left no room for complacency, as participants were meticulously assessed on various aspects, including organization, timeliness, presentation, sanitation, flavor profiles, and even the appearance of their uniforms. Beyond the culinary dishes, each contender faced a challenging 100-question test, evaluating their expertise in general culinary knowledge—an assessment in which Grissom demonstrated his outstanding capabilities by scoring a 92%.

Grissom attributes his resounding success to LRCC’s long-time culinary competition mentor, Chef Bob McIntosh. Grissom praised Chef Mac’s invaluable guidance, saying, “Chef Mac really helped me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. He was the perfect mentor for me through this whole process. I can’t thank him enough for the practice hours he put in with me and the work ethic he has instilled in me. I will never forget it.”

The LRCC Culinary Arts Program, under the dedicated leadership of Culinary Chair Chef William Walsh and Associate Professor Chef Kayla Harper, proved to be a nurturing environment for Grissom throughout his journey, offering unwavering support and guidance.

“At Skills USA in Atlanta, Keller proudly represented LRCC and New Hampshire by demonstrating his culinary talent and skillset with the production of his multiple-course menu.  After months of practice and preparation, Keller’s impressive accomplishment was only eclipsed by his poise under pressure and his humble approach to the challenge and his fellow competitors.  With his top-4 finish, Keller’s future in the kitchen looks bright”, said Chef Walsh.

Reflecting on his overall experience at LRCC, Grissom showers the program with praise, lauding the high standards set by the faculty, the fully functional restaurant open to the public, and the invaluable friendships forged with fellow chefs.

Upon graduation with a two-year degree next year, he plans to transfer to Johnson & Wales University to pursue a bachelor’s degree, with a passion for Hawaiian cuisine possibly shaping his culinary aspirations.

As Lakes Region Community College celebrates Keller Grissom’s accomplishments, the institution continues to stand as a beacon of culinary excellence, nurturing the talents of aspiring chefs and preparing them for successful careers in the culinary world.