Big Island Chocolate Festival Student Culinary Competition’s Leading Lady

You have heard of the “Iron Chef” competition and cooking competitions like “Chopped”, right? Well, the Big Island Chocolate Festival has it’s own version with the Student Culinary Competition where two culinary teams from the Big Island, West Hawaii Culinary Academy and the Hawaii Community College-Hilo and the Maui CCheech Shurillaommunity College culinary students compete for first, second and third place awards. Playing Mistress of Ceremonies on May 9th is Teresa  “Cheech” Shurilla, Assistant Professor/Pastry Chef Instructor at Maui Community College.  Chef Shurilla has been working and teaching in the culinary field for over thirty two years.

Chef Shurilla began her career in the kitchen at age 19 during the Nouvelle California Cuisine era in the early nineties. She worked as an assistant pastry chef at Pastel restaurant and L’Orangerie in Beverly Hills, Café Jacoulet in Pasadena and later Michaels Waterside Inn in Santa Barbara. She then continued her apprenticeship in 1985-86 at the renowned three-star Michelin restaurant in London, Le Gavroche. She followed that with a stage at the well-known pastry school in Plaisir, France, Ecole Lenotre. She returned back to the States and began her Pastry Chef career in smaller bistro style restaurants, Le Chardonnay in West Hollywood and Champagne Restaurant in Beverly Hills. In 1989 she moved to Maui to help her parents with their restaurant the Hali’imaile General Store, she then left Hawai’i for 6 years where she worked in San Francisco and New York, and then found herself back on Maui working once again for the family.

Chef Shurilla joined the culinary team at the MCA in spring of 2001. She has exhibited an incredible dedication to her craft and assumed overall leadership and charge of the baking and pastry arts component of the culinary program.

Chef Shurilla has been working with the Big Island Chocolate Festival in developing the annual student competition since 2013. In 2014, Chef Shurilla brought iPads with her from Maui to help the celebrity judges score the students using a new application program. She had a good time teaching celebrity chef and CheechWithChefschocolate maker, Jacques Torres, how to use the new technology, which he thought was very innovative and fun! The photo shows her also instructing Donald Wressel from Guittard Chocolate.

The organizers want to thank Chef Shurilla for developing the “rubric” used for the student competition and for the entries for the Big island Chocolate Festival’s 20 sweet/savory/bonbon and “bean to bar” competition. She presides over internationally known chefs during the Festival gala ensuring that the competition is run smoothly and fairly.

The public is invited to watch the culinary student competition on Saturday May 9th from 9 am – 2 pm in the Kilohana Room at the Fairmont Orchid.


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