2012-11-16 / Neighbors

Resident has taste for culinary success

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Megan Manseau, a resident of Scarborough, was part of group of culinrary art students from Southern Maine Community College who took first place in the Cutting Edge: Culinary College Competition last month in Portland. (Courtesy photo) Megan Manseau, a resident of Scarborough, was part of group of culinrary art students from Southern Maine Community College who took first place in the Cutting Edge: Culinary College Competition last month in Portland. (Courtesy photo) Scarborough resident Megan Manseau has always felt at home in the kitchen. From a young age, Manseau, a secondyear culinary arts student at Southern Maine Community College, could be found in the kitchen helping family members with cooking and baking.

“I love food and spend most of my time in my kitchen. My nana was the best baker in the world. I was always in the kitchen helping her,” said Manseau, a 2010 graduate of Scarborough High School.

Manseau said she got her first taste of what it was like to prepare a meal when, at 10 years old she prepared a spaghetti and meatball dinner, complete with garlic bread one night when her mother was running late due to a meeting at work.

The years of hands-on learning has transformed Manseau from curious cook to an award-winning culinary arts connoisseur.

On Oct. 26, as part of Portland’s Harvest on the Harbor event, Manseau and three of her SMCC classmates were named winners of the inaugural Cutting Edge: Culinary College Competition. The competition, sponsored by True North Salmon Co., pitted 17 culinary arts students from SMCC and Washington County Community College against each other in a contest to create the best salmon dish.

Manseau’s group, made up other members of the college’s quiz bowl team, included Nate Davies of Orrington, Toan Nguyen of Portland and Adam Robichard of Hollis. The quiz bowl team is a group of students at the college who compete in a Jeopardy-style culinary knowledge competition every spring.

She said there were very little guidelines that her group needed to follow in coming up with a dish.


The winning dish consisted of a salmon roulade with cream cheese dill sauce and an arugula beet salad. Left, Al Craig, VP of Sales from True North Salmon, Andrew Lively, director of marketing from True North Salmon and Michele Ragussis, celebrity chef, pose with the competition’s winning team (from left) Toan Nguyen, Megan Manseau, Adam Robichaud and Nate Davies. (Courtesy photos) The winning dish consisted of a salmon roulade with cream cheese dill sauce and an arugula beet salad. Left, Al Craig, VP of Sales from True North Salmon, Andrew Lively, director of marketing from True North Salmon and Michele Ragussis, celebrity chef, pose with the competition’s winning team (from left) Toan Nguyen, Megan Manseau, Adam Robichaud and Nate Davies. (Courtesy photos) “We ended up meeting and began throwing concepts at each other to figure out what we were going to make,” Manseau said.

Manseau, who works in the kitchen of the Farmers’ Table in Portland, decided to ask chef-owner Jeff Landry how he thought the group should approach the competition. Landry suggested the group create a salmon roulade, a dish that Manseau said involved “taking a filet of salmon, butterflying it open and stuffing it with flavor.”

“It gives the salmon a really good presentation and you get a lot of flavor into the fish,” Manseau said.

Manseau said the stuffing was made of leeks, shallots, Ritz crackers, butter and Swiss chard, a green leafy green popular in the Mediterranean. The sauce was made up of cream cheese, milk, cucumber, dill and a hint of lime juice. The dish was accompanied with an arugula beet salad with a soy-sauce dressing.

Manseau, who won $1,000 for the winning dish, said the competition was a great learning experience for her and her teammates.

“It allows you to be more creative,” she said. “We got to come up with our own recipes, what techniques to use and we got to talk to a lot of people about the paring of flavors and presentation. We got to approach it with a whole new angle than we do in class.”

Manseau is in her second and final year of her culinary arts education at SMCC. When she graduates this spring, she said she will continue working at the Farmers’ Table, before traveling and experiencing other cultures.

“I want to learn as much as I can,” she said. “I want to travel and explore other cuisines because I haven’t really done that. I want to travel to Europe to learn about flavors, where they come from and what they do for food.”

That, she said, will be good preparation for her ultimate goal.

“I want to come back and open my own restaurant in Maine. I love Maine,” Manseau said.

While the culinary arts curriculum encompasses techniques for appetizers, main courses and desserts, Manseau said creating entrees is her favorite part of cooking.

“I really love entrees because that’s where the heart of the dish is. You put the most time and effort into the entrees and it really shows in the end. I love seeing that,” she said.

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