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UMD Chef Conor Maki Brings Home the Gold

Conor Maki and his winning dish
April 18, 2017

UMD chef Conor Maki brings home the gold after competing with six others at a regional conference last month! The National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) held the competition on February 21, 2017 in Fargo. Conor heard of this opportunity and decided to give it a shot – and thank goodness he did! Growing up in Duluth and then being employed in Florida, he has learned a lot—which is obviously serving him well.

While in Florida, he met his future wife and got paid to learn at the Gasparilla Inn & Club. After spending a few years there, Conor says that “chance brought him back to Duluth” where he found out about the UMD position in 2015 and has been working there ever since. What he likes about working at UMD is the flexibility— “It’s great for somebody who has a family and can not be in a kitchen all day”. 

In February 2017, he traveled to Fargo in order to compete in the NACUFS culinary competition. His winning dish was a combination of staple pork and beans, named 'Swine in the Brine.' Most of the other competitors did just a basic pork chop, but he put pork chop and baby back ribs together. 

He attributes his creation to northern Minnesota and southern Florida—food he’s grown up with and food he’s come to love. The pork chop was finished with butter, thyme, and shallots while the baby back ribs were braised with lots of citrus and garlic, then glazed before serving. “Swine in the Brine is my way of having fun with some classics” says Conor. 

For the future, Conor is playing with the idea of opening up a food truck in Duluth, but for now UMD is extremely lucky to have such a talented person creating cuisine for faculty, staff and students.