In October of 2012, Tropical Foods hosted the Flavors of the Fall Recipe Contest with culinary students at the Charlotte Campus of Johnson & Wales University. We’re catching up with some of the finalists to see what they are up to now. First up is Rocky Jokbengboon who created the recipe Buffalo Chicken Marinara using Tropical Foods Buffalo Nuts.
TF: What have you been up to since the Tropical Foods Flavors of Fall Recipe Contest?
RJ: “Since the recipe competition, I have truly attempted to branch out and acquire as much knowledge and skill in multiple areas of the culinary industry. I competed in the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition and won the Southeast regionals ranking me as one of the Top 10 culinary students in North America. During that time I also interned for the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group at Bouchon Bakery in NYC. I also began working for Chobani Greek Yogurt as a brand ambassador for their trade shows as well as in their test kitchen.
This has allowed me to do a great deal of traveling. Currently I am the Sous Chef of a restaurant in Charlotte, NC called the Dandelion Market. I was fortunate enough to be the youngest promoted to that position within the company.”
TF: Tell us about your experience in the Tropical Foods recipe contest.
RJ: “My experience with the Tropical recipe competition was a great one. It definitely takes time and practice to come up with a worthy recipe. Working with other students helped us challenge each other more. I learned, like with most things, there is always room for improvement while creating recipes.”
TF: How unique was it to work with Tropical Foods products as ingredients?
RJ: “Working with the Tropical Foods products was great. It definitely provided a challenge. My advantages in working with these products was that they were fairly out of left field which required a great deal of creativity and for one to think outside of the box. It’s one of my favorite things to do when creating recipes.”
TF: What was your favorite part of the recipe competition?
RJ: “My favorite part of the competition, besides actually competing during the tasting rounds, was working with my friends to try and test the recipes out.”
TF: What are the next steps in your culinary career?
RJ: “My next steps in my culinary career will be taking the path to learn about food and culture as well as inspire and speak to as many aspiring culinarians that I can. I will be creating a Youtube channel soon to help get this information out. I have been fortunate enough to be able to receive mentoring from Master Baker and Chef Author Peter Reinhart to help me hone my skills in food literature. During my 3 years of school (still ongoing), I have accomplished many things that I had not dreamed that I could do. I like to pose the question to others when they ask what I want to do in the future, “What is going to happen when Bourdain, Boulud, Keller, and all the other great names of the culinary world that my generation looks up to are gone?” I ask myself this every day and want to, not only become a leader in educating on the topics of food and culture, but to also help in inspiring aspiring culinarians to create this generations Bourdains and Bouluds to help carry on the legacy of greatness in the world of culinary arts.”