Let's be honest: as a child, you dreamed of competing on Food Network and being crowned the next Iron Chef. Your epic cake decorating abilities would impress even the harshest of critics. You dreamed of the day Gordon Ramsay sincerely commented your perfectly seared steak. A kid can dream, right?

For the students at the University of Saskatchewan, this dream became a reality. On Wednesday, March 23, the 4th annual Iron Chef competition was held at the famous Marquis Dining Hall. USask Spoon members had the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes to watch the competition unfold. And let me tell you, this event gave a whole new meaning to "Organized Chaos." As one competitor stated: "We had flow charts and diagrams..." Talk about #commitment 

The Participants

alcohol, beer, wine
Tina Yu

Nine teams—composed of four U of S students and a designated professional sous chef—competed for the title of Student Iron Chef. The Latins, BuffaWOW, Taste of Bangla, The RA's, Hot Pockets, Feed the Munchies, KongFu Panda, The Shining Maple Stars, and Dhakar Pola each brought their passion for food and culture to the kitchen.

Flavours from Latin America, Bangladesh, China, and Austria mixed and mingled to create mouth-watering authentic dishes such as Shrimp Ceviche and Chinese Dumplings. Passion for culture was reflected not only in their dishes, but also in the presentation, decorations, and costumes worn by the competitors. 

The Goal

beer, pizza, cake
Tina Yu

It's hard enough cooking for yourself; imagine cooking for 600 people! At the Student Iron Chef Competition, each team had to create one dish and prepare enough to serve 600 hungry dorm students. Each dish was also taste tested by a panel of judges consisting of faculty, students, and a professional food critic. As if that wasn't crazy enough, each team had only four hours in the kitchen.

The Results

sushi, wine
Tina Yu

Students lined up outside the dining hall, anxious to get their hands on some culinary creations. Team Bangala was a crowd favourite, especially since they came into the competition as the reigning champs. They took their presentation to the next level by delivering their food to the judges with traditional music.

Vegetarians enjoyed the tofu-stuffed bell peppers sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, while those looking for something a little more uncommon could dine on Bison Wellington served with Mushroom Risotto. This unique event offered something to please every palette.

seafood, cream, fish, dairy product, vegetable
Tina Yu

In the end, members of Team Hot Pockets, representing the U of S Students' Union, were declared the Iron Chefs of 2017. Their dish, herb-infused trout confit with crostini and fennel slaw offered a delicate balance of savoury, salty, and crunch. After finishing in second place last year, the team was overjoyed to be declared victorious.

What I Learned

candy, chocolate, strawberry, sweet, cream
Tina Yu

Witnessing the behind-the-scenes magic really gave me a deeper appreciation for all the hard work dorm chefs put into making meals. Not only do they have to feed a minimum of 600 students, but they have to do it three times a day, EVERY DAY, and keep the menu items fresh and varied. That's a huge task, and the chefs deserve the shout-out of the century. You guys rock.

Spoon USask will definitely be signing up next year to put our culinary skills to the test. Who knows: maybe I will finally be able fulfill my childhood dream of becoming an Iron Chef.