Iron Chef competition challenges teams to create diverse dishes

The Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos (FEC) cooked an orange-peeled beef that won the Iron Chef UM cooking competition held Wednesday night at the Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall.

The friendly competition, organized by UM Dining Services, pitted four student organizations against each other to make meals out of different, randomly assigned meats. The winners were given two complimentary Universal Studios park-to-park tickets by the Coca-Cola company, while the other competitors got increments of UM dining dollars, with fourth place getting $10, third place getting $20 and second place getting $30.

Each team had two chefs and one hour to cook the meal. They also had to add a secret ingredient: any Coca-Cola drink product.

FEC President Daniela Lorenzo and President-elect Sarah Betancourt enjoyed the event, cooking an orange-peeled beef with spices, butter asparagus, butter parmesan potatoes and corn starch, using Coca-Cola to thicken up the sauce.

“We put everything that we have into what we do, all our spirit and energy,” Betancourt said. “It was a lot of fun, learning new cooking tips. I thought it would be more of, ‘What do I do?’ But this was really fun.”

The dish was a favorite of Robyn Webb, one of the judges. Webb is an award-winning cookbook author, nutritionist and food editor who is now a culinary instructor at the Wellness Center.

“They had everything. We watched them work during the preparation stages and their dish was just superb, very well-balanced, great flavor and great plate presentation; everything worked together and it was a wonderful dish,” Webb said.

FEC will also have a private cooking lesson with Webb in the Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall that will be fully customized to whatever Lorenzo and Betancourt want to cook.

“I am a nutritionist so we will keep it on the healthy side, but we will customize it; we will have fun and they will learn skills that they can use in their life,” Webb said.

Other competitors included the Council of International Students and Organizations (COISO)’s Vicky Kalfayan and Olivia Cohen, who had pork as their meat; Beja Turner and Ivann Anderson of United Black Students (UBS), who had chicken; and Student Government’s Jeffrey Sznapstajler and Zoe Kafkes, who had fish.

Amanda Goodwin, the marketing manager of UM Dining Services, organized the exciting competition to create something fun among students.

“We wanted to combine the culture and diversity of different nationalities when they cook their food,” Goodwin said. “We have FEC and COISO who could give us something fun.”

Feature image courtesy Pixabay user Oldmermaid.