Fans and participants of Miami University’s RedHawk Chef will be pleased to know there will be food to cook at this year’s event thanks to a narrow approval by student senate Tuesday.
In previous years, Associated Student Government (ASG) has not allocated funds to organizations for food unless it was for an educational purpose. According to Tom Foster, vice president of student organizations, the food itself must be used for educational purposes, not that the food will be served in an educational setting.
“It really needs to be education where someone is really going to learn something about it and take something from it — really expand their knowledge,” Foster said.
This sparked heated debate in the senate over whether or not the use of food in Program Board’s RedHawk Chef, an Iron Chef-style cooking challenge, was in fact educational.
“I think there was so much debate because it is a great program,” Foster said.
Foster said when it comes to spending student fee money, the senate must be fair in allocating funds. He said it’s not up to them to decide which program is better than another — they must abide by the guidelines and rules they set from the start.
“We need to make sure that the funding is being distributed to all organizations in a fair and equitable manner,” Foster said.
Program Board’s initial request for funding was denied because the funding committee saw the food used as means for a competition, not for educational purposes. There was no discussion about a cultural aspect, Foster said.
The head of the RedHawk Chef program, Tara Killmer, presented the Program Board’s appeal to the senate Tuesday explaining there will be a new cultural aspect added to the challenge. It will encourage participants to not only learn about different ethnic foods, but also to see the different ways their mystery ingredient can be prepared, Killmer said.
The new cultural addition to the challenge, Killmer said, requires teams will also be assigned a specific ethnicity of food they will prepare a week in advance in addition to a mystery ingredient presented the day of the challenge.
Killmer said without funding for food, she was not sure the Program Board would be able to host the event, which, as pointed out during debate, has become a new Miami tradition in the past five years.
“The whole event is based on the food, so if we hadn’t gotten the funding, it’s kind of hard to have the event,” Killmer said.
The senate voted 23-22 to allocate $500 for food for the RedHawk Chef program, half of what Program Board initially requested.
“We’re going to have to move our budget around, but it’s definitely going to be a lot better than if we didn’t get the money,” Killmer said.
The reason for the decrease was because of the precedence set by ASG to fund other organizations’ food requests this semester. According to Foster, ASG funds up to $5 per person who will be participating. A member of the Program Board said roughly 100 people usually attend RedHawk Chef, including participants and audience members.
Despite the decrease, it was still a close call for Program Board and RedHawk Chef.
Senior Megan Earls participated in the event last year and was glad to hear the Program Board received funding for food this year.
“I thought it was a great experience and I would definitely do it again,” Earls said.
This year’s RedHawk Chef, dubbed Clash of the Cultures, is set for Thursday, Oct. 28.