Constituent Spotlight: Jaclyn Adamonis
Homewood Resident Named Top Student Chef in National Competition
An awesomely prepared entrée of bacon-wrapped rabbit won Jaclyn Adamonis the coveted title of “student chef of the year” in the nation’s largest and most prestigious contest for culinary schools.
The Homewood resident’s secret ingredient? A lifelong passion for cooking that she picked up from her father and mother.
“Both sides of my family are huge food junkies,” she said. “My earliest childhood memory is standing on a step stool in my father’s restaurant, scooping seeds out of green peppers.”
The Joliet Junior College student won the national championship at the annual American Culinary Federation convention in Las Vegas last month. She and her fellow students also won the team championship.
Jaclyn’s extraordinary rabbit entrée was accompanied by a whole grain mustard rabbit sauce, carrot puree, yukon gold potato, sautéed hericot vert (French for green beans) and sautéed oyster mushrooms. For her appetizer, she prepared a roasted zucchini plank with a clam-stuffed shrimp ball, and sautéed red snapper with a tomato-orange jam.
“Three judges asked me what was in the tomato-orange jam,” said Jaclyn, a 2010 graduate of Homewood-Flossmoor High School. “One asked for the recipe. They all said my rabbit, sauces and red snapper were cooked to perfection—so that was awesome.”
Jaclyn and her teammates competed against regional teams from Kentucky, Utah, New York, as well as a U.S. Army team.
The contestants were given a basket of ingredients in May and instructed they would be required to prepare an appetizer and an entrée.
“There was a lot of time to practice,” Jaclyn said. “Rabbit is difficult to cut into parts because it’s very lean, so there’s not a lot of meat. And you have to be careful not to overcook rabbit because it gets tough. Mine turned out very tender. And my rabbit sauce turned out beautifully.”
JJC culinary arts instructor Tim Bucci said Jaclyn achieved her top chef status by fusing her talent with hard work and determination.
“Jackie came new to me back in October of 2012, with no experience in competitions,” he said. “Since then, she never looked back. I am extremely proud of how hard she worked to become the top culinary student in the nation."
Bucci said the JJC program had “some of the best chefs in the nation.” The college, which is opening a brand new facility in 2015, offers an associate’s degree in culinary arts and a certificate in baking and pastry.
Jaclyn, who graduated this summer, describes the JJC culinary program as “amazing” and credits Bucci with helping her win the competition.
“Chef Bucci was our coach and our mentor—he taught us everything. I had an incredible support system while getting ready for the competition. I loved it at JJC. I had an awesome relationship with the teachers, the professors and the chefs—who will help me with my career. I made lifelong friends there.”
Jaclyn admits she’s not an easy person to have dinner with.
“I’m a food snob. I look at how clean the silver is, how the wait staff acts, how the menu is written, how long it takes to get a waiter. My mom gets mad at me and constantly tells me she’s not taking me to dinner anymore.”
Jaclyn says that someday she’d like to have restaurant of her own, but is not yet ready. Meanwhile, she is quite certain that her culinary skills and tomato-orange jam will soon land her a job at a first-class restaurant in the Chicago area.