On Friday, November 19th, the DSU Math and Science Club transformed the TC Marketplace into Cafeteria Stadium where four competitors tried their hand at making a cuisine that would reign supreme over the others. These four chefs: Galen Farah, Jimmy Chattin, Jackson Marketon, and Vidur Bhalla, had an hour to cook their dishes and $20 of Trojan Gold to spend.
One of the sponsors, Aramark Food Services, provided general food items, like spices, as well as four separate cooking stations fully equipped with utensils, pans, and electric burners. The other two sponsors, Drama Club and Student Senate, provided the panel of judges including: Jordan Schuh, Kim Ireland, Dylon Kiley, and myself.
For those who are not familiar with “Iron Chef America” which this event was based on, there is a secret ingredient that each chef must incorporate into their dishes. Unlike “Iron Chef America”, however, our chefs needed to only prepare one dish.
Anxious to begin, the contestants took their places in their corner stations to hear the announcing of the secret ingredient. Chairman Casey Swanson took center stage to get the event underway at about 5 pm. After introducing each chef and the main points of the contest, Chairman Swanson declared the secret ingredient to be – elk. Two of the contestants would have to use elk steaks while the others would have ground elk meat to work with.
As soon as Chairman Swanson uttered the words “ala cuisine,” the battle was started! Throughout the following hour, the chefs hustled to put together their creations. In the beginning, it was difficult to see what the end results would be, as time progressed, the dishes were starting to come to life. As a judge, I was anticipating tasting the concoctions the chefs had been working so hard to put together.
The presentation order was determined randomly and started with Jackson’s dish. He put together a stir-fry using the elk steak and vegetables. As a side dish, he tried his hand at a “Greek yogurt.” The general opinion of the panel was that they stir-fry was a little dry, but good. However, the “Greek yogurt” left a sour taste in our mouths. The next dish put in front of us was Vidur’s curry entrée served with a buttered croissant. All around, this dish was a favorite. In all honesty, while it was being cooked, I think we were a little hesitant to try it, but when it was served to us, our minds were changed. Vidur’s only downfall was the overuse of butter on the croissant.
Then, it was Jimmy’s turn to present his spicy creation. With a spread of Tabasco ramen noodles and ravioli stuffed with sting cheese and elk meat, Jimmy’s dish was the most labor intensive as he made his own dough for the ravioli. Time was not his friend, unfortunately, as the ravioli ended up being undercooked. Also, the judges, even with a surplus of milk, found the Tabasco ramen to be too spicy.
Last but not least, was Galen’s feast of a dish. Using only items that would be truly found in a typical college dorm room, Galen prepared an “elk-fredo” using a microwave dinner of fettuccini alfredo and cubed elk steak meat topped with crushed Nacho Cheese flavored Dorito chips. On the side, Galen added two dessert choices: fresh fruit and powered donuts. Also, Galen was the only contestant to offer a drink with his dish.
Plates were cleared and the score sheets were tallied, and it came time to announce whose cuisine would indeed reign supreme and have the opportunity to be served in the Marketplace. Anticipation weighed on the chefs as they patiently awaited for Chairman Swanson to make his proclamation of the winner. Finally, the Chairman took center stage again and named Vidur Bhalla as the overall winner! As the winner, Vidur’s dish will be served in the TC Marketplace on Tuesday, November 30th at the Home Zone station. If you’re curious about this dish, try it! It was definitely delicious!