Culinary students from Renton Technical College prepare Gov. Gregoire’s inauguration dinner

Renton Technical College culinary students

Kyle Campisi is just 19 and already he’s cooking for the governor.

Campisi of Buckley joined seven other culinary students from Renton Technical College’s highly regarded culinary program to prepare Wednesday’s four-course dinner for Gov. Chris Gregoire’s second inauguration in Olympia.

“It’s exciting. It’s going to be crazy,” said Campisi Wednesday morning, as he and fellow chef Kris Gentry watched over their buffalo short ribs.

And, perhaps most importantly, it’s a learning experience.

A five-member team of students selected the menu, one that the culinary students will use in upcoming competitions with other culinary programs. RTC will host the western U.S. regional competition in April.

The menu featured a lineup fit for a second-term governor and her 100 chosen guests. They dined on filet of sole, bleu cheese custard and quail egg, the buffalo short rib and wild rice waffle. (See the full menu below.)

And then there was the bread and luscious desserts, including warm apple spice cake with Armagnac (brandy) ice cream, to complement and cap off the meal. These were prepared by the culinary program’s baking students.

“They are pumped,” culinary instructor John Fisher said Wednesday morning of the students, as he oversaw the final preparation and loading of the dinner for the trip to the state capital.

Fisher knows the routine. He took a team from RTC to Olympia for Gregoire’s first inauguration. The committee was impressed and asked RTC to prepare a meal again. They came up recently for a taste test and were impressed again.

“They liked everything,” said Fisher.

Gregoire didn’t come up for the taste test, but she was likely going to visit with the students in the state Senate kitchen where the final food preparation and plating happened.

The dinner was served in the Columbia Dining Room in the Capitol.

Fisher said the RTC student chefs were to get introduced to the diners as well.

There were some inevitable bumps on the road to Olympia. Early on – luckily – someone noticed that the battery was dead on the RTC truck that was to help deliver the meal to Olympia.

Across the hall from the kitchen, baking students, under the direction of instructor Kimberly Smith, prepared three breads and three desserts.

In charge of the dessert portion of the menu was Wendy Lai, a graduate of the RTC baking program.

“I’ll have everything done here. Then we will assemble there,” said Lai.

The dinner was expected to begin at about 6:30 p.m. today and end about 9 p.m., according to Fisher. The students planned to leave Renton at about 11 a.m.

The inauguration was expected to draw a crowd of about 5,000 to the Capitol, but only those select 100 sat down with Gregoire.

But Fisher, whose students have also staffed an hors o’doeurves station an inauguration, said it was estimated that those 5,000 guests would consume about 36,000 hors o’doeurves.

The serving was done by members of the U.S. Navy, dressing regally, including those white gloves.

Because of the four courses, the students plated 400 times, all of which then have to be served.

After the actual food preparation, the plating – placing food on a plate in an attractive, appetizing way – was one of the most stressful times, Campisi said.

“Plating is an extra-stress situation,” he said.

And it has to go just right.

“You need a nice smooth flow with your teammates,” he said.



Poached Filet of Sole Mousseline with Mussels and Shrimp

(prepared by student Anitha Samuel)

Sauce Crevettes’ (shrimp sauce)


Stewed Beluga Lentils Truffle Essence, Tomato Concasse Salad

(prepared by student Mark Eleccion)

Blue Cheese Custard and Quail Egg

Hazelnut Cracker

Champagne Vinaigrette


Pomegranate Rosemary Sorbet

(prepared by student Kris Gentry)


Buffalo Short Rib and Balotine of Poussin

(Prepared by students Kyle Campisi and Kris Gentry)

Tourne of Pumpkin

Swiss Chard and Savoy Cabbage

Wild Rice Waffle


(prepared by student graduate Wendy Lai)

Warm Apple Spice Cake with Armagnac Ice Cream

Poached Seckle Pear and Goat Cheese Tart with Pomegranate

Baked Lady Apple, Caramel Sauce

Starbucks Sumatran Double Bold French Press Coffee

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