To say Miranda Peyketewa is a busy college student would be an understatement. The 27-year-old alumnus of Lincoln High School in Wisconsin Rapids holds three jobs while seeking two associate degrees and two certificates in culinary arts at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton. And she's hungry for more.
Peyketewa, who grew up in a family of five brothers and seven sisters, recently was rewarded for her hard work, taking first place honors in the cold plate competition during the Wisconsin Restaurant Association Expo in Milwaukee. Entries in the category actually start out as hot dishes but are then covered with an aspic, or gelatin, and served cold. Peyketewa's award-winning dish had multiple layers.
"The requirements were to use ground veal and beef tri-tip, so I pan-smoked the beef, coated it with a spicy chocolate rub, and then used the ground veal for a chocolate cabernet (wine) sauce with it," Peyketewa said.
Peyketewa, who graduated from Lincoln in 2002, got the idea to use chocolate in a savory dish while attending a Red Cross fundraising event in Menasha a few years ago. "There they made prime rib and put chocolate in a (spice) rub," Peyketewa said. "I thought it was really good because it was surprising; chocolate has so many complicated flavors, but I would've never thought to do that before I came here. "Peyketewa, who enrolled at Fox Valley Tech in 2008 and plans to graduate in December, also helps serve or prepare food at the campus cafeteria, at a nearby Olive Garden and through an internship at Bella Vita, an Italian restaurant in Appleton.
The award-winning chef first made her mark in baking, said her twin sister, Sabrina. "She always did a lot of baked goods, like cookies and cakes," Sabrina said. "People would pay her to bake for their potlucks, and we really liked her coffee triple chocolate cookies." Peyketewa loves to cook, but her long-term culinary future could be on the management side of the industry because she has carpal tunnel syndrome, which can cause numbing or weakness of muscles, in both wrists.