Photo by Sabrina Mastronardo ‘15
The smell of pumpkin permeated the first floor of Acopian last Friday, indicating that the second annual ChemE cook-off was well under way. Taking home first place, “The Gastronauts” seized the judges’ eyes and taste buds with two polished-looking dishes. Bite-sized cinnamon-raisin toast squares smothered in a homemade cream cheese spread and garnished with colorful fruit was the appetizer. A juicy open-faced steak sandwich followed as the main dish.
Three chemical engineering teams and one Foodie House team hustled Iron Chef style for the title of best culinary expert. Sponsored by AIChE (American Institute of Chemical Engineers), each team was allocated $70 for ingredients. Food was bought ahead of time and prepared the night before. Cook-off rules were simple; one hot and one cold dish of 40 servings each must be assembled and grilled on-site.
Team “Squash the Competition” created a chilled pumpkin soup that smelled as heavenly as Mom’s pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. The team took on a unique spin to the festive dish and topped each serving with bacon bits and a dollop of crème fraîche.
“My team really wanted a cohe
sive element among our dishes and thought a theme would be the best way to accomplish this,” Matthew Warrener ‘14 said. “We chose a fall theme to coincide the season and from there looked for foods typical of the fall so, pumpkins, squash, bratwurst were natural choices.” Their fall-themed menu was awarded third place.
Team “Blue,” representing the chemical engineers, took home second place. They composed a Mediterranean hot dish of grilled chicken, pepper, onion, and zucchini shish kabobs with a yogurt marinade. Their cold dish, pita bread with three types of homemade hummus, was a crowd pleaser.
Other favorites included the Foodie team that experimented with multiple flavors. Bright green cucumber sections were scooped out and stuffed with creamy salmon spread and small chunks of hard-boiled egg. Accompanied by grilled shrimp, the team created one of the most aesthetic presentations in the competition.
“My favorite part of the competition was observing how the teams worked together in the preparation and presentation of all the dishes,” AIChE faculty advisor and “Squash the Competition” member Michael Senra said.
Warrener liked the competition for the interaction as well.
“We know our professors in an academic setting, but it is so interesting to get to know them as people – their interests, tastes, and abilities,” Warrener said.