Miranda Pederson/Daily News
Chef Krey Keeney from Creation Gardens cuts up and explains a variety of seasonal and unusual vegetables and fruits Tuesday Jan. 31, 2012 during the presentation by Creation Gardens at the Bowling Green Technical College Culinary Program. (Photo by Miranda Pederson/Daily News)
Krey Keeney, a former chef who now works as a purchaser for Creation Gardens specializing in locally grown and specialty produce, and Ghyslain Maurais, an Indiana-based pastry chef whose desserts are served at his four restaurants and also distributed through Creation Gardens, spoke to BGTC culinary arts students.
Keeney's presentation touched on the diverse options available to chefs when working with seasonal produce.
As Keeney spoke about how produce is at its best quality and its cheapest when bought during its growing season, students sampled numerous fruits and vegetables he had brought for the demonstration, including kumquats, blood oranges, jicama and snow pea shoots.
"It's been really interesting learning how fresh produce ends up on your plate," said Keeney, who was a chef in Louisville for 14 years before joining Creation Gardens as a purchaser.
Maurais, who grew up in Canada near Montreal, gave students a perspective on how lots of effort and luck are involved in becoming a successful chef.
After serving as a head chef for the Canadian Embassy in New York and London, Maurais relocated with his wife to Indiana, where he opened a boutique that showcases his chocolates.
Maurais eventually expanded his business to encompass four restaurants, including one in Louisville, and his pastries are now sold to hotels and convention centers, as well as online to the public.
Michael Riggs, executive chef and associate professor of culinary arts at BGTC, said students would benefit from seeing how visiting chefs work with food products that students may not have been exposed to yet.
"To create good food, you have to have unique and outstanding products," Riggs said. "People are eating stuff now, like jicama and plantains, that 10 years ago they had no clue of."
Riggs also serves as president of the South Central Kentucky chapter of the Kentucky Restaurant Association, whose members met Tuesday evening at BGTC.
Keeney and Maurais, as well as Lewis Shuckman, president of Louisville-based Shuckman's Fish Co. and Smokery, were at the meeting to demonstrate their products.
Members enjoyed a citrus salad prepared by Keeney, smoked salmon and other seafood from Shuckman's, and a host of desserts by Maurais.
Business at the restaurant association meeting included discussion of the upcoming Taste of Bowling Green, an annual event benefiting local nonprofit The Dream Factory.
Scheduled for March 22, the event will feature several food and beverage vendors. Riggs said a new wrinkle this year will be the selling of five Ultimate Taste sponsorships, in which five tables will be roped off from the rest of the event. Those who buy the sponsorships will be served appetizers prepared on-site by five different chefs.
Riggs said two of the five spots available to area chefs in the Ultimate Taste portion of the benefit have been filled.