” Sweet aromas filled the air at the second annual Akron Iron Chef Competition. The competition was held on Monday March 30 in the Student Union Ballroom. Three teams of five students each competed, with the help of one chef advisor for each team. The white team consisted of Erik Miller, Rebecca Steiger, Eli Starks, Keith Douglas and Jane Holloway.””
Sweet aromas filled the air at the second annual Akron Iron Chef Competition.
The competition was held on Monday March 30 in the Student Union Ballroom. Three teams of five students each competed, with the help of one chef advisor for each team.
The white team consisted of Erik Miller, Rebecca Steiger, Eli Starks, Keith Douglas and Jane Holloway.
The gold team consisted of Erick Freay, Andrew Zamagais, Mike Lee, Michael Collins and Wei-Chu Liu.
The blue team, the reigning champions from last year consisted of Alexandra Muraca, Brendan Gilpatric, Richard Molnar Jr., Melissa Taylor and Paul Sergi.
The emcee of the competition was Dean of Summit College, Stanley Silverman.
There were also three celebrity judges who were Provost Beth Stroble, Theresa Proenza and Food Editor of the Akron Beacon Journal, Lisa Abraham. The judges used multiple criteria to evaluate the chefs which included organization, sanitation/cleanliness, utilization of ingredients, utilization of allotted time, creativity, portion size, taste, presentation, texture and nutritional balance, all which were worth five points.
Stroble believes that it is a combination of the criteria that are important, and to pick out any one wouldn’t be right, it is how they all come together. Abraham’s opinion of the most important criteria is taste. To me, if it tastes good and it makes me want to take a few more bites then it is fulfilling its mission. Lastly, Proenza thinks the most important criteria are taste and creativity, because creativity shows willingness to experiment.
The chefs were introduced to the secret ingredient at 4:00 p.m. The secret ingredient for this year’s competition was sushi grade tuna and a whole chicken.
Although they did not have to use all of it, they needed to use some.
The students had a half hour from 4:30-5:00 p.m. to measure, prep and dice. From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. is when the cooking took place, and they had to plate the food from 6:00-6:10 p.m. Judging started at 6:15 p.m.
There were many different people in the audience ranging from parents and friends to potential employers and faculty of the University.
Kris Hawk who works at Westfield Insurance was one individual who attended the event.
I am here to observe the culinary expertise of students as well as look at potential students who we may hire, Hawk said.
She thought the competition was similar to the Food Network’s show, Iron Chef America.
It seems pretty intense and there are bigger teams, Hawk said.
Parents of one of the chef competitors, Erick Freay member of the Gold team, attended the event.
We are here because we went to the first one and had a great time, Erik Freay’s father, Pete Freay said. We are going to come every year, He also said he liked to see how students prepared the food and how they presented it. Pete Freay jokes, I am glad to see we are getting our money’s worth. Catherine, Freay’s mother, says, I like seeing them compete and work as a team. Last year the kitchen was in front of the audience, but this year it was in the back so we couldn’t see what was going on. She joked that the students could be in the back ordering food from a restaurant.
Larry Gilpatric, professor of Hospitality Management and Chef Advisor of the white team, said that although his team has been practicing for three weeks, they didn’t know what the secret ingredient protein was which made it hard because that is what meals are based around. He believes that this is an important event because, students get to work together which is rare because we have largely commuter students and this is a good chance for them to work with their peers, spend time together, build camaraderie and compete. He believes that all teams did well and rose to the occasion.
Two of the teams competing in Iron Chef Akron had to compete in order to get to this competition. The blue team got a bye, meaning they advanced to the next round without competing, because they were the winners last year, but the white and gold team had to compete against four other teams.
After deliberating, the three judges decided that it was a unanimous decision and announced the white team were the winners.
Eli Starks, one member of the winning team said, We worked together as a team and put time and effort into the different dishes. Walking into the competition we all had a backup plan which helped us.
Jane Holloway, another member of the white team stated an interesting fact, We are all first semester students, and the other teams were second semester students. She also said our team was an interesting mix, we covered all the decades.
Keith Douglas, member of the winning team said his favorite part about winning is the bragging rights. Erik Miller and Rebecca Steiger, the remaining members of the winning team think that Douglas was a very important member of their team because he pushed them and had the most experience. The entire team believes that their Chef Advisor, Larry Gilpatric, was helpful because he motivated them to work together and progress.