With eggs flying across the room and clouds of spices perfuming the air, the annual Northwestern Dance Marathon Top Chef competition got off to a strong start last Saturday afternoon. The ground floor of Norris University Center was filled with Northwestern students and staff, as well as Team Joseph “heroes” — children battling Duchenne — and their parents.
Sixteen teams representing sororities, fraternities, campus clubs and pre-orientation programs competed for the $1,000 grand prize towards their Dance Marathon teams’ fundraising totals. The three judges, Wildcats senior running back Venric Mark, nuCuisine District Manager Steve Mangan and Assistant Vice President for Student Engagement Burgwell Howard, ranked the teams based on taste, creativity and appearance.
Teams were given a standardized set of cookware, a pantry full of basic ingredients, a $25 Whole Foods gift card to buy all other necessary ingredients and 30 minutes to prepare and plate their dishes for judging.
As expected, the competition had some surprises. The secret ingredient, blood orange, had to be incorporated into each team’s dish. In addition to the main event, quick fire challenges (such as eating a donut off a string) involved audience members and resulted in some great candid photos. The heroes spent the afternoon participating in quick fires, coloring, decorating cookies, playing tag with Dance Marathon committee members and occasionally filling in as emcees.
Vicki Wang, Dance Marathon marketing committee co-chair, was there selling merchandise and watching the day’s events. This was the first time she had ever seen the competition and was impressed. “The events have been running really smoothly, and everyone — participants and audience members alike — seems like they’re having a good time,” she said.
The Alpha Phi/Sigma Chi team, Alpha Phood and Sigma Chefs, came in first place with their challah French toast, topped with blood orange-infused macerated strawberries, marmalade glaze and handmade whipped cream. “I heard about some pretty legitimate dishes so we knew we’d have to show up to the competition, and I think we did that,” said winning team member Stevie Lillington, 18.
Jason Chen, 18, also on the winning team, said that he was “getting some really good vibes with everyone here for Team Joseph. Having all the cute little kids here reminds us why we’re doing everything we are for Dance Marathon. Although teams are competing fiercely, we’re all here for the same cause.”
Marissa Penrod, president and CEO of Team Joseph, echoed Chen’s words. “It’s good to see so much energy behind supporting Dance Marathon,” she said. “To know there’s this kind of team behind it is an inspiration to me, just to see this many people pulling for Team Joseph.”
Check out some more photos from the competition below.