Fresno State chefs win first Garlic Bowl at Gilroy Garlic Festival

Fresno State Executive Chef Erik Debaude [right] and Sous Chef Bryan Kramer [left] in their Fresno State gear.

Fresno State Executive Chef Erik Debaude [right] and Sous Chef Bryan Kramer [left] in their Fresno State gear.

Fresno State Executive Chef Erik Debaude [right] and Sous Chef Bryan Kramer [left] in their Fresno State gear. Photo courtesy of Cary Edmondson

Victory was achieved for Fresno State at this year’s annual Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 26. Fresno State’s University Dining Services Executive Chef Erik Debaude and Sous Chef Bryan Kramer won the first Gilroy Garlic Festival Garlic Bowl, defeating executive chefs from San Jose State and UC Berkeley.

Debaude and Kramer entered the Garlic Bowl, a one-hour cook-off where they created two dishes within the time period. Each dish demanded a specific ingredient: garlic.

Together they practiced the two dishes in the one-hour period three times beforehand. Debaude said they were talking about what they were going to make back in February.

“I felt confident and 110 percent about the dishes we made,” Debaude said. “But under different judges, you never know what are their preference.  Meaning that I felt confident that the dishes we made were strong, but you never know. This is food. What I like, you may not like.”

Together they made two dishes: “Fresno State corn and St. André stuffed crêpes with tarragon and lavender garlic cream sauce” and “seared duck breast with red currant sauce, garlic purple mash potatoes with beet croustillant, stuffed fig with chive and garlic goat cheese.”

Debaude and Kramer won a $5,000 scholarship, a garlic bulb trophy that will be displayed in the residence dining hall and a set of pots and pans.

Originally from Paris, Debaude said he was constantly around the aromas of cooking since he lived above his parents’ restaurant. He attended Jean Ferrandi Culinary School and completed a culinary internship at a fine dining restaurant in Paris.

Debaude said he later moved to Florida with his parents to open a restaurant where he worked various culinary jobs. In 2009, he moved to Fresno with his wife where he landed his job as the executive chef for Fresno State.

“[It’s] sort of complicated because I work for both Save Mart Center and I oversee Fresno State operations, food-wise,” Debaude said. “Meaning that, on campus, we have the dining hall where we feed all the students. We have the catering department where we feed any catering events that we have on campus. And then I oversee the Save Mart Center where we feed all the special events from concerts to all the stars.”

Kramer, who graduated from Fresno State in 1997 with a degree in food and nutritional sciences, began his job in the culinary world as a dish washer in a pizzeria during high school in Fresno. Over time, he worked his way to head cook in the pizzeria.

After graduating at Fresno State, he worked in food services at Fresno State and later was offered the sous chef position, which oversees the catering department.

The chefs also incorporated their dishes with Fresno State corn and olive oil, from the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market, both produced by students.

Debaude felt it important to incorporate Fresno State’s products to show what the college and Central Valley has to offer in agriculture.

“I think that, you know, people are not aware that we [Fresno State] have a culinary program,” Debaude said. “We have a farmers market, we grow our own produce, we grow our own tomatoes, we make our own ice cream and we butcher our own meat. It’s a lot of things that I think people don’t know about what Fresno State has to offer.

“And that’s what we are trying to utilize too in the dining hall too, is use all the fresh produce from the farmers market.”

Debaude added that his main goal soon is to talk to farmers at Fresno State and see what ingredients they will be able to use next year for the Gilroy Garlic Festival.

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