A little bit of Nashville hot chicken meets chicken and waffles with Tex-Mex flavor.

That's the quick overview provided by University of Montana Campus Dining Executive Chef Brian Heddlesten. And his zippy creation incorporating the contest's required ingredients has brought home gold to Missoula, Montana.

UM News Service tells us that Brian won first place in the 2024 CMS Cost Solutions recipe contest. Contestants were tested on their talent, style and creativity. Brian Heddlesten won the recipe contest with his "Chipotle Hot Chicken & Cornbread Cheddar Waffle" recipe, using ingredients required by the contest’s sponsors: a breaded chicken breast filet and chipotle with adobo spice blend.

Brian said he wanted to "pull in a few of the components of hot chicken such as cayenne, brown sugar, and smoked paprika but still provide a chance for the chipotle flavor to stay at the forefront.” He explained that the breading on the chicken soaks up the spicy sauce, while the waffle deviates from the norm with the addition of cornmeal, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese.

As the recipe contest winner, he receives an expense-paid trip to the 2024 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago on May 19-21.


Restaurants in Missola
Image courtesy of UM News Service, Ryan Brennecke

In another competition, also on the national stage, UM Campus Dining Executive Sous Chef Hailey Palmer brought home a silver medal from the American Culinary Federation,  following her participation in the National Association of College and University Food Services regional culinary challenge, which took place last month in Tacoma, Washington. While several UM Campus Dining chefs have medaled in this competition in the past, Hailey is the first to earn silver.

Hailey's dish using required ingredients featured three proteins: branzino - a European sea bass - along with wheat and shrimp.  She had to build a nutritionally balanced plate using all three proteins, a starch, vegetable and a sauce within a strict time limit.


Casual dining fans to devoted foodies always love to try new restaurants. The entire UM Campus Dining culinary team is preparing for the grand opening of the new two-story, state-of-the-art dining center, scheduled to open this fall. The all-you-care-to-eat dining center will be open to the public, featuring seven micro-restaurants that showcase cuisines from around the world.

The new dining experiences will be found along what is knowN as Ryman Walk on the campus, leading from Arthur Avenue to the grizzly statue.

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