Chef Educator Today magazine, the primary publication for culinary educators across the country, featured the Columbia College Culinary & Pastry Arts instructors and students in their summer 2002 issue. The article centered on the college´s selection by Chef Desk, a food-measurements research firm to verify its findings in determining the best turkey yields.
Based in Sonora, Chef Desk compiles data on food yields and equivalents and publishes its findings in The Book of Yields. This book, along with its companion software, is used by U.S. restaurant management and culinary arts programs as a standard in helping teach food costing and in making important purchasing decisions. Leading restaurant chains, contract caterers and independent foodservice operators also rely on it for pertinent data.
After completing a series of yield tests on roast turkeys in its research kitchen, Chef Desk asked the Columbia College Culinary & Pastry Arts Department to verify its findings on the test variables: turkey size and gender, oven temperature and oven type, fresh or frozen, free-range or commercially-raised.
Chef Gene Womble, the college´s culinary program coordinator and his key lab assistant, Charles Rice conducted tests in the college kitchen lab on three successive Fridays. Rice supervised the students under the guidance of Chef Desk´s founder and director, Francis Lynch. Lynch is very familiar with the college and its program, having been the program coordinator and its chef/instructor himself at Columbia from 1989 through 1996.
Four hen turkeys were selected. Two were fresh and two were frozen. Three were free-range and the other, commercial. Three weighed between 13 and 15 pounds, while the fourth weighed 22 pounds. All were cooked in a conventional Montague oven at 325°F until they reached 160°F at the inner thigh.
In the end, the results of the college tests corroborated the Chef Desk findings on which type of turkeys obtained the highest average percentages of carved meat yield.