NU goes gourmet for DM at cooking benefit

Sara Fay

Saturday night, 14 teams of students cooked dinner for Northwestern President Henry Bienen – on a $25 budget and without an oven.

In the Dance Marathon Top Chef competition, students prepared dishes at the Now We’re Cookin’ cooking school, 1601 Payne St. Each dish was required to include honey, in honor of DM’s main beneficiary, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation.

An Iron Chef competition in 2007 raised just $25, but Saturday night’s event raised $1,100 and was a great success, said Adam Miller, Food Committee co-chair and a Medill senior.

“Everyone just had a lot of fun,” he said. “We couldn’t be happier with how things went and we know that this is just the beginning.”

Weinberg senior Melanie Moss and her teammates prepared honey-dipped prosciutto wrapped around pan-seared scallops, which were paired with a spinach salad in a honey balsamic rosemary vinaigrette and reduction. They also made a honey-lemon poached pear stuffed with a honey goat cheese mixture.

Each team was given a $25 budget at Whole Foods Market; Moss said she spent every cent.

“The biggest challenges (were) not being able to use an oven and the budget, which at Whole Foods, you can pretty much buy a carrot. I wanted to highlight how honey, such a basic ingredient, can really be elevated to fine dining, not just as a dessert but also in savory ways.”

Associated Student Government President Jonathan Webber, Bienen and top pastry chef Mary McMahon judged the competition.

“It was a pleasure to cook for President Bienen and Jonathan Webber … And Mary McMahon said she was very impressed by the dish, which was a real compliment,” Moss said.

While studying abroad in France last year, Moss was a translator and sous-chef for cooking classes led by Parisian chef Olivier Berté.

Other than that, she said she has never attended cooking school.

More than 150 students attended the event and Bienen said he was impressed by the display of talent in the kitchen.

“I knew our students were incredibly talented, but I didn’t know they were talented in this regard,” Bienen said in a press release.

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