New chef competition challenges nuCuisine’s culinary talents

Kelly Gonsalves, Reporter

Sodexo cooks will compete to impress Northwestern student judges with new culinary creations at nuCuisine’s first ever Battle of the Chefs Series, beginning this Tuesday evening at Allison dining hall.

NuCuisine marketing manager Jason Sophian said the series of competitions is modeled after the show “Iron Chef”  and organized like a March Madness tournament. The competition will take place through April and May, moving among resident dining halls and campus retail locations. All students eating at the dining location for a particular night of the competition can participate in the judging process.

“It’ll be able to give students the opportunity to put a face on the people who make their food everyday,” Sophian said. “We’re trying to push more involvement and more of a personal relationship.”

Teams of two cooks and one chef will have one hour to prepare a dish with certain guidelines, such as including a special ingredient or catering to a certain theme. Students’ opinions will drive the competition. As they swipe their WildCARDs and enter the particular dining location, students will receive a ballot listing the teams and their respective dishes with a list of ingredients. All students can taste each team’s entry and vote for their favorite dish.

“These events are a good way to show that they’re being proactive about doing something about the feedback they get from students,” said John Hardberger, a Medill sophomore and regular at the 1835 Hinman dining hall. “It shows that they’re interested in what we want and diversifying for us.”

The Battle of the Chefs Series is also aimed to “motivate, inspire and really challenge” the nuCuisine cooks, Sophian said. The competition is open to all interested NU cooks and chefs with a prize of “bragging rights.”

“Before we were even done hearing what the concept was, we were asking where we sign up,” said executive chef Chris Studtmann in an nuCuisine news release.

Competitions in the first bracket of the series will be held at Allison dining hall 4:30-6 p.m. Tuesday. The next bracket will be held April 30, followed by more installments in May.

According to Sophian, nuCuisine is also planning another such battle where student groups, such as the staff of Spoon magazine and the Campus Kitchens Project, can compete to create new dishes for the student body. Plans for this student competition will be finalized next month.

“We play such a vital role in the students’ everyday life here on campus — everybody has to eat,” Sophian said. “We want to highlight to students all that we have to offer and let them know all the effort that we put in day in and day out to make sure that they are getting the best product that we have.”