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UAV Culinary Student Wins National Contest with Award-Winning Recipe
News Release - Fri, Aug. 11, 2017

By Stephanie Santiful, MLIS

Samantha "Sammy" Rodriguez's love for cooking brought her to the University of Antelope Valley. Initially, she was a former business student at Antelope Valley College, but felt something was missing. After a bit of research, she learned about UAV.

Ask any culinary student, and they will tell you that the Culinary Arts & Restaurant Management program at UAV is one of dedication and demand. It is also one of opportunity. Recently, Rodriguez discovered that firsthand.

Culinary students at UAV were invited to participate in a contest held by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board and Emmi Roth Cheese. This contest required students, with the guidance of their instructors, to use Wisconsin cheese to make unique and flavorful dishes.

The winners of the contest would be rewarded with a 5-day, 4-night trip to Wisconsin for an artisan and specialty cheese immersion tour.

Like other students who participated in the contest, Rodriguez had no idea if she would win. That didn't stop her from dedicating her time and skill to making her award winning, Rellenito—which was inspired by her mother. "She's from Guatemala. That's where I got the idea for making the recipe," Rodriguez says. She knew that judges would be looking for uniqueness, and figured that most of them would not expect to see plantains combined with cheese.

She was right.

Although her classmates all had amazing dishes, Rodriguez's dish stood out amongst them. She, along with two other instructor and student combination teams from other schools, won the contest. In the next few days, Rodriguez will be visiting Monroe, Wisconsin where she will meet award-winning cheese makers as well as visit local Monroe cheese makers.  Other visits on her tour include a trip to a dairy farm, enjoying area restaurants, and a visit to Dane County Farmer's Market, the largest produce only market in the country. 

With Rodriguez's future goal of being a successful woman chef, winning this contest is definitely a leap in the right direction. Still, she says she owes a lot of her drive and work ethic to UAV's Chef Herve Guillard. "He doesn't let us take the easy way out," she says.

For potential culinary students, and perhaps even current ones, she offers a few words of advice. "Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, and put your heart out there. You will go places." 

UAV would like to congratulate Ms. Rodriguez and commend her on her hard work. We also graciously thank her for sharing her recipe.

Award-Winning Recipe

Rellenito with Sweet Mango Chili Sauce


2              Large Plantains

6 oz         Refried black beans (canned)

8 oz         Natural Melt Cheese

1/2 Cup   Flour

1/4 Cup   Powdered sugar

1 Quart    Frying oil

Place the plantains in water to cover in a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender, 15 minutes. Drain and mash.

In a small saucepan over low heat, heat the refried beans. Stir in the sugar and salt. Remove from heat.

To make the rellenitos, form a palm-sized amount of mashed plantains into a ball; flatten and place about a teaspoon of the bean mixture in the middle; then mold the sides of the plantain around the beans, making an egg-shaped ball.

Dip egg shaped balls into flour.

Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large skillet to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), or until a small amount of batter sizzles and browns in the oil. Fry rellenitos in oil until browned. Drain on paper towels.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar, and serve!


Sweet Mango Chili Sauce

3              Dried Japanese Chilies

1/2           Yellow Capsicum (bell pepper) Chopped

1              Garlic Clove, Minced

2              Medium sized Mangos, Roughly Chopped

1/2 Cup    Apple Cider Vinegar

1/2 Cup    Water

2 Tbsp      Lime Juice

1/2 C        Sugar

1/4 Tsp    Salt

Chop and deseed the chilies. You can decide on the amount of heat you want in your sauce by the amount of seeds you leave

In a saucepan, place all the ingredients, except the cornstarch, and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Remove from heat. Using a stick blender, carefully blend the mango sauce until smooth and all lumps and chilies are blended. Remember it's very hot! Don't burn yourself

OPTIONAL - only if sauce is very runny. Return to heat and return to simmer. Take 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and mix with 2 tablespoons of cold water making a slurry. Add the corn starch slurry to the mango sauce and cook for a few minutes until it thickens

Place into a clean sterilized jar, allow to cool and keep refrigerated.