Zach B., Yale University
The introduction to the original Japanese version of the TV show “Iron Chef” closes with the epic words, “The heat will be on!” On January 30th, Yale Dining held its annual Iron Chef Competition, where, unfortunately, the heat level was rather disappointing, considering each team was only allocated two burners. Six teams from my residential college, Pierson, competed in the preliminaries for one spot in the final competition that will be held on February 24th. Each college will have one team represent them.
Sadly, my team’s “Latke on op of Orange Glazed Chicken Stir Fry” (Jewish and Asian fusion… the next big culinary movement?) did not win over the panel, so we will not be moving on. Despite our defeat, I do have some reflections on the process.
1) Due to the large number of teams competing in the preliminary competition, Pierson split up judging over two days. The time differential made objective tasting difficult, considering the requisite comparing between dishes.
2) With only two burners allocated to each team, the potential for creative dishes was lacking. Failing to provide oven space ruled out slower cooked foods. Therefore, many teams fried or seared the ingredients, leading to similar dishes all around.
3) The “Iron Chef” concept was misapplied. The organizers required that teams use all the ingredients in their baskets, including oranges, chicken, potatoes, and rosemary. This fits more of a mystery basket competition, not an Iron Chef. Perhaps this is just a semantic argument, but when I hear Iron Chef, I want a dramatic unveiling of some obscure East Asian crustacean.
Considering my complaints, I think that attempting a university-wide cooking competition promotes a positive culinary culture. In a world of Easy Mac and Chef Boyardee, encouraging students to cook creatively indicates that Yale Dining cares about providing good quality food.
Although the competition has much room for improvement, Yale Dining and the Yale College Council should continue to host this competitive culinary outlet. In the words of announcer Kenji Fukui, on February 24th in Commons, “Whose cuisine reigns supreme?”