Yudof judges flapjack stacks

Jeremy Taff

With enough electricity to power four homes, 25 chefs fired up their griddles Monday in the St. Paul Student Center for a chance to please the presidential palate.
The first-ever Golden Gopher Pancake Cook-off saw six commercial and 19 noncommercial competitors batter it out for plaques and athletics’ tickets. Students, staff, faculty and alumni snapped up samples and bought $1 short stacks.
Corporate donations and on-site sales raised more than $5,000 for scholarships, said contest organizer Jeff Sturkey.
But perhaps the day’s biggest beneficiary was University President Mark Yudof, who has made it clear since coming to Minnesota in July that he has a fetish for flapjacks. Yudof walked by each table talking to contestants and sampling pancakes just hours before he was slated to judge the final round.
He was confident he would be ready when the round came. “I’m kind of in a pancake daze at the moment,” Yudof said.
Judges evaluated cakes based on nine criteria: appearance, aroma, color, originality, taste, texture, tenderness and whether they were fully cooked and thoroughly mixed.
Mike Martin, dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, helped Yudof select the winners.
“It’s like being a referee in the first Superbowl,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure.”
That pressure trickled down to contestants like Denis Biagini, whose blueberry pancakes were one of Yudof’s favorites. “My mother doesn’t even have this recipe,” said Biagini, who traces his pancake-making days back to elementary school.
It was a three-generation cook-off for 12-year-old Jerome Tjosvold, his dad Jeff and grandfather Paul. The trio whipped up corn cakes that Jerome Tjosvold thought up.
“He and his dad just started experimenting in the kitchen,” Paul Tjosvold said.
Almost every contestant’s pancake recipe was put into a book that sold for $2. “It’s a darn good book for making pancakes,” 63-year-old Paul Tjosvold said. “Everybody comes here with their best recipe.”
One youngster came up with his Apple Cinnamon pancakes while testing ingredients in the kitchen. Contest officials were surprised after calling one afternoon and asking for Mr. Jeff Hughes.
Jeff used the cook-off as a class project. His fourth grade class drew up posters that he plastered all over his booth to draw attention to his entry. “Getting out of school was probably the best part,” Jeff said.