Ready, set, cook.
Tuesday marked the third annual RedHawk Chef-a cooking competition organized by Program Board-and this year’s winner was the four-person contingent of the Student Dietetic Organization.
The event was hosted by Adrien Sharp, host of Home For Dinner on JTV in Jackson, Mich. and from last season’s The Next Food Network Star. Sharp spent the first half hour cooking a Shrimp Homemade Marinara for the audience members to munch on, while raffles and prizes were given during the hour-long cook-off between six organizations.
Aside from the aforementioned winners, the remaining teams rounding out the competition in the Shriver Multipurpose Room included the Shriver Center Bookstore; Intrafraternity Council (IFC), which consisted of the brothers of Beta Theta Pi; College Republicans; Campus Activities Council (CAC); and Program Board, taking the place of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, which withdrew just before the start of the event, according to Laura Mossing of the Program Board team.
Each team was given a secret ingredient to work with, which Sharp unveiled at the start of the event as avocado, and was given one hour to prepare an entrée, an appetizer and a salad or dessert using the secret ingredient in all, according to Alicia Burrello, co-chair for RedHawk Chef.
“We just thought we’d give them an ingredient they could actually cook with,” explained Burrello, who said that last year the ingredient was jicama, a root used in Latin American food and might have been the cause of the poor food showing a year ago. While some said that their preparation had been either minimal or non-existent, others had played out possible scenarios of what to do with different secret ingredients.
“We strategized intensely,” said senior Chris Sale prior to the event.
He was the sole male representing Student Dietetics, which competed under the name “Chris’ Angels.”
As the competition was underway and prizes were being given out to audience members, crowds were beginning to develop to support each of the teams. Some supporters cheered, while some supporters were worried about their friends.
“The salad dressing is definitely making me a little nervous to eat,” whispered sophomore Megan Burness, while watching IFC prepare their quesadilla with avocado topped salad.
After the hour was complete and the dishes were all prepared, three judges consisting of Sharp and two Miami faculty members went from team to team judging. After a few minutes of deliberation between the judges, Student Dietetics was unanimously voted the winner, while IFC was unanimously voted as second place, according to Sharp, who said the Student Dietetics’ shrimp bisque appetizer was “incredible.” He also cited the mushroom dish from the Shriver Bookstore as one of his favorites.
“We realized we could use fresh avocado with all of our main ingredients so it worked out well in the end,” said Sale, after initially expressing concern over avocado being the secret ingredient. ” … Knowing the chemistry behind the food really enabled us to pull all of the ingredients together-understanding all the different textures and flavors to make it all come together. It was pretty awesome, I watch every episode (of Sharp’s show) and I want to be on it some day.”
The other three members of the Student Dietetics team were seniors Alicia DiCello and Rachel de Steiger and junior Kelly Baird.
“I think that just because we’re dietetics majors, we’re all really interested in food and we all cook a lot,” said DiCello, whose team’s creations featured an entrée of gnocchi with yucca and potato, along with the shrimp bisque. “That was an advantage because we all have experience cooking. (Sharp) also gave us his e-mail address and he told us what a long sort of road it’s been getting a show, although we already knew it was hard.”
President David Hodge, who was accompanied by his wife Valerie at the event, was visibly impressed with what he was seeing.
“This is a really neat event,” said Hodge as he made his rounds from table to table. “We had never seen (RedHawk Chef) before-very fun and extremely creative.”