cook like a professional chef

KSU Culinary Apprenticeship Program’s Mystery Basket


I might be a bit biased writing this since I’m a graduate of Kennesaw State University.  A couple of years ago I attended a social media conference at KSU.  My fee for the conference included lunch at The Commons, the university’s “food court” if you will. I was amazed at the diverse offerings…lamb shank and pork belly biscuit among other appetizing features…for lunch! My how my college had changed. When I was a student there, I was excited when I was able to get bacon on my ground beef taco.

Doing a little research, I was very surprised to find out just how impressive KSU’s culinary program is. A couple months ago, I was invited to the “Mystery Basket” challenge put on by the KSU Culinary Apprenticeship program. My Alma Mater had an entire continuing education program devoted to a field I feel so passionate about? Hooray! I couldn’t wait to find out what was in store for me.


Mystery Basket Competition – Open, Prep, Cook!

The Culinary Apprenticeship Program is a 9-month intense program designed for aspiring culinary professionals with a passion for food who desire something more than the traditional, classroom-based culinary education program. Students work hands-on in the kitchens of accomplished professional chefs who provide the tools needed to succeed in the hospitality industry.

That evening , I was escorted to the kitchen where the Mystery Basket challenge would take place. Instead of each student being given the same food to work with,  each was given a very different basket of food: chicken, quail, halibut,  veggies and lastly steak.



The students quickly assessed what proteins they were given to work with and their minds racing to decided what to prepare. They were given 70 minutes to prepare a delicious plate of food to be judged by their instructor. They quickly got to work assembling their unique dish. An hour and 10 minutes never went by so fast! And here’s what I got to eat for dinner:

Ashley – Grilled halibut steak over saffron rice with sauteed bok choy and shishito lemon white wine sauce
Ken Sauteed chicken with brown chicken reduction sauce on grilled endive served with herb-infused goat cheese, sweet pickled beets and garnished with pomegranate and grilled tomatoes
Jerry Bison flank steak with grilled new potatoes and breaded zucchini with chili sweet sauce
Chris Pan-seared quail with port demi sauce, dandelion rocket salad and sauteed egg pasta
Connor – Walnut-encrusted chicken over wilted greens, sweet potato puree, pickled radish and shishito pepper

KSU Culinary PRogram Atlanta KSU Culinary Program
(L: Walnut encrusted Chicken, R: Quail and egg pasta)

Not only was I impressed by the professionalism or the students’ work, plating and taste, but the fact that they are able to accomplish this is just 9 short months with the Culinary Apprenticeship Program. What’s more is the sheer diversity of the students. Some were young and eager to start a career in the culinary world, while others were retired and looking for something to spark some creativity.


I dined well that evening!

About the author

Malika Bowling

Malika is the author of several books including Culinary Atlanta: Guide to the Best Restaurants, Markets, Breweries and More! and the founder of Roamilicious. She is also a Digital Marketing and Social Media Consultant. Follow us @Roamilicious on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest for the content not shared on the blog. And don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter (subscribe box below) and never miss a contest, giveaway or the latest must visit restaurant!