The Usdan University Center is by no means a venue renowned for its culinary greatness. Home to the Marketplace and the Cafe, two staples for on-campus eats, the Center offers fare that is “not bad” at best. On Saturday, Feb. 27, however, four teams of four students convened on Usdan’s first floor to compete in a battle tailored only to the most culinarily adept: the Iron Chef Competition.

Based loosely on the Food Network program of the same name, the competition was organized by University Campus Activities Board (UCAB) member Rajaa Elidrissi ’16. Like its reality show namesake, it posed an intense gastronomic challenge: each team was to prepare three dishes—an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert—in the meager period of one hour and present them to a panel of three judges. Incentive to win was provided by the promise of two free Whey Station sandwiches per victorious contestant. So motivated by the thought of warm, gooey cheese galore, contestants set out to cook a gourmet meal chock-full of heart and soul. 

All equipped with a station of knives, pans, and a portable stove, each team produced a milieu of impressively gourmet eats. The team that took the cake, however, was the “Croc Pot Batalli and the Saucies.”

Made up of Lizzie Noonan ’16, Isaac Schneider ’16, Wyatt Krutsch ’18, and Anna Schwab ’16, the quirkily named quartet demonstrated their culinary savvy with a “salmon mash” appetizer, an entree of beef (cooked in bacon grease, shallots, and greens), and a dessert of caramelized carrots (garnished with blueberry-mint vinegar spread and cream).

Though resulting in his team’s victory, Schneider recalled that inventing these eats was the most challenging part of the competition.

“The most challenging part?” he said. “Probably creating the menu, then doing it piece by piece as we went along.”

But even with this struggle, Schneider remembers the battle fondly.

“[It was] tremendous!” he said. “Tremendous fun! For all! The whole family!”

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