Cook-off will pack Yudof

Jeremy Taff

When University President Mark Yudof decides it’s time to throw in his hat, many Minnesotans will remember his reign of restoration projects and attempts to keep campus tidy.
Now he wants to make it tasty, too.
Yudof’s fetish for flapjacks will hit its highpoint next month at the University’s first annual pancake cook-off. But chefs hoping to please the palate of the president only have about three more weeks to enter the contest.
The idea for the cook-off came from Yudof himself, who since moving to Minnesota July has been sampling pancake houses across the state in search of the perfect hotcake. While Yudof is anxiously awaiting the contest, it probably won’t end his hunt for the tastiest cake.
“This is a lifelong quest,” Yudof said Monday. “This could take some time.”
The Golden Gopher Pancake Cook-off will be held Monday, May 18 underneath a circus tent at the Earle Brown Continuing Education Center parking lot on the St. Paul campus.
The light-hearted event takes place as others in the administration feel the force of the Yudofian revolution.
“This is just another sign that the culture of this institution and the way it functions is bending to our new administration’s tastes,” said Mike Martin, dean of the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences. Martin said he “was drafted by the big cake himself” to help judge the affair.
Entry forms for the contest can be obtained from University Relations and must be sent to the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences office by April 24.
The competition is slated to be the first of many contests that Martin said could have international implications.
“We’re taking the humble pancake and putting it where it deserves,” Martin said. “The pancake has nourished and inspired people for decades of generations.”
Centuries, to be more precise. Pancake lore puts the age of the breakfast treat closer to 500 years old. In the mid-1400s, Christians cleared their kitchens of meat products to prepare for Lent. This included fat, which was used to make pancakes.
Today, some cities hold pancake races where contestants must flip flapjacks at the beginning and end of the race. While University officials won’t be holding a race, the competition will have two divisions: commercial and open.
The first will be for restaurants and for-profit organizations, while the open division will be for people attempting to prepare their best cake.
“I hope Al’s Breakfast and other prominent breakfast institutions will step up to the plate and see how they stack up,” Martin said.
The pancake competition will begin at 1 p.m., two hours before a public pancake feed is slated to start. The best pancake of the day will be announced around 6 p.m.
For those looking to impress contest judge Yudof, he’s made it clear that he has a hankering for buckwheat pancakes.
There will be no charge for entering the competition, but judges will be soliciting donations. Contest coordinator Jeff Sturkey said there will be no set rules about how much people should donate. “I’m hoping people let their conscience be their guide.”
Proceeds will fund student scholarships in the College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences.