Gourmet turns into dorm-made in ‘Iron Chef’ competition at Coffman

Nina Petersen-Perlman

Coffman Union Great Hall morphed into Kitchen Stadium on Saturday night for Minnesota Programs and Activities Council’s second Iron Chef competition, minus a few of the usual accoutrements.

Instead of the highest-caliber equipment and ingredients like those used by participants of the Japanese cult hit TV show of the same name, student Iron Chefs could use only microwaves, plastic utensils and food found in a typical dorm room.

Think more Chef Boyardee than Iron Chef.

Contestants had 45 minutes to create three dishes, which were judged on creativity, presentation and use of the night’s secret ingredient: Minute Rice.

English senior Abbie Bauman, MPAC’s recreation chairwoman, said what the event lacked in audience turnout, it made up for in participants’ “super creativity.”

There were about 60 people in attendance, Bauman said.

“Some people had the craziest combinations,” Bauman said, referring to Team Chocolate Chica’s Apples and More Galore culinary creation.

The dish had a Pop-Tarts crust with layers of a peanut butter and cream cheese mixture; rice, honey and nuts; and apples cooked in apple juice and sugar. Bauman said she might keep the recipe.

Darren Glisan, an architecture senior who was a member of Team Mmmmgood!, said his crew had international inspiration in creating dishes like a vegetarian pad thai using ramen noodles.

“We were going for ethnic infusion; we wanted to cover the globe,” Glisan said.

But for their dessert, “Grandma’s Special Sauce (With Rice),” Glisan said, they turned homeward to pay homage to a very special lady. He said he felt confident in their success.

“Our chances are really good ‘ mmmmgood!” Glisan said.

Teammate Emma Pachuta, an architecture senior, said the event was an interesting concept because it highlighted the plight of a resources-limited residence hall student.

“We’ve all been there, trying to make good food out of crap objects,” Pachuta said.

Mechanical engineering first-year student Grant Sivula of Team Cereal Killers said he decided to settle a grudge against the reigning champions, Team Hiiiiii.

“We did a tuna taco bagel called the Cat’s Meow,” Sivula said. “We didn’t dare try any of our food.”

Tara O’Leary, a food science senior, was one of four judges at the competition.

“One of the dishes was inedible; we couldn’t even cut it,” O’Leary said. “The chocolate bar was like a brick.”

In the end, Team Chocolate Chica beat out the competition to win the grand prize: They will watch a demonstration and eat the resulting food at Broders’ Cucina Italiana.

Chocolate Chica team member Adria Crowe, an economics and Spanish first-year student, said the hardest part was making sure the food was “warm and not rotting” come judgment time.

Team Hiiiiii’s Lucia Yess, a first-year student, said it hurt to lose but promised to reign again.

“We thought we had it,” Yess said. “They knew our strengths and worked against them.”