In a tasty combination of classroom lessons and entrepreneurship, a Plymouth State University student team took home the top prize in creating a new dessert for New Hampshire’s Common Man family of restaurants. Team Blue’s delicious entry, “Bursting Blueberry Crisp,” was awarded 1st place in a ceremony Dec. 6 at the Common Man’s Concord eatery.
First launched last year, the Common Man Apprentice competition is modeled after the reality TV show, ‘The Apprentice,’ featuring Donald Trump. Business students from PSU and St. Anselm College in Manchester served as apprentices for Common Man restaurants during the semester-long contest. Head chefs from the restaurant chain selected the three best desserts out of 21 total entries from contests at each school. Those six winning entries, three from each school, were put on the menu during November at each of the five Common Man restaurants in a head-to-head competition, with the winner decided by total sales. Team Blue sold 572 servings, beating out their fellow PSU competitors, PSU White Chocolate’s Caramel Cheesecake, which tallied 486 orders.
Dr. Bonnie Bechard, PSU business professor, designed the program along with her husband, St. Anselm business professor Tom Fitzpatrick, to give students in her Organizational Behavior course the opportunity to develop teamwork skills and real-life business experience.
“I’m very proud of them, all of the students did an awesome job,” Bechard said. “Clearly, all of the desserts this year were a cut above, we did great last year, and the students seemed to learn a lot from the success of last year’s students, so I’m very excited about our success and bringing the winner’s plaque back to PSU.”
The winning team consisted of Matt Carney, a senior from Merrimack, N.H.; Jessica Voaden, a junior from Avon, Conn.; Ryan Griffin, a junior from Canton, Conn.; and Michael Vigneault, a junior from Merrimack, N.H.
“I would say time management is the best lesson I learned, it was very difficult trying to work around each other’s schedules and get the work done, but we figured it out” said Jessica Voaden.
Matt Carney of Team Blue believes the blueberry-based dessert caught many diners eyes
because it wasn’t seasonal. “I thought the recipe was a little different, especially for this time of year, we worked on a different topping using graham crackers, so that little twist really made a difference.”
Jason Lyon, Common Man CEO and 1994 PSC alum, was very impressed with the competition results. “Keep in mind these are business students, not culinary arts students, but they jumped right into the process and came up with some pretty impressive and innovative recipes.”
Among the requirements for a successful entry, the dessert can take no longer than an hour of preparation time and should take less than three minutes to assemble and serve.
The runner-ups also were PSU contestants, including the Bakers Delight team of Meghan Grubbs, Tom Myers, Alec Vargus, Ali Pothier and Michael Stack. The Dainty Delights team included Meghan White, Jennifer Oddy, Stacy Harkabuf, Lianne Houde and Kara Kiely.
St. Anselm’s Gretal’s Stout Gingerbread entry also placed in the final judging.
The team creating the winning recipe receives a $500 prize from PSU and St. Anselm College, and an additional $500 was awarded from the Common Man to be given to a charity or student organization of their choice. The winning dessert also earns a place on the Common Man menu.
For more information, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU Media Relations Mgr., 535-2775, firstname.lastname@example.org