By Mintimer Avila |Staff Writer|
CSUSB Dining Services hosted its first Copper Chef Tournament at the Upper Commons on Feb. 17, where competitors were given one hour to prepare a dish that must be accompanied with a salad.
The real challenge, however, comes from the mystery ingredient that is announced only a minute before the event starts and must be used in the main dish.
This keeps the competitors on their feet and requires them to think on the spot.
Four teams, each with two CSUSB students, competed against each other for first place.
The dishes were judged by six CSUSB staff members on presentation, creativity and taste.
Each judge could give a total of 60 points for each category for a maximum total of 180 points.
The team with the most points would be crowned the champion, winning the title of Copper Chef and a pizza party for 20 people.
The event was modeled after the TV show “Iron Chef,” where competitors are given a secret ingredient that must be served as the main dish, using only the provided ingredients and utensils.
The students were given a variety of fruits and vegetables to choose from but ultimately had to work around the secret ingredient, beef tenderloin.
There was no limit to the number of times students could go up and get ingredients.
The teams consisted of Michael Dandurand and Ryan Bracken, Nicole Oliver and Daniel Mambou, Alexis Andrade and Andrea Navarro, and lastly Brandon Woods and Emmanuel Ezeagwula.
Dandurand and Bracken prepared the tenderloin with onions, mushrooms, garlic and papaya.
They accompanied the dish with a classic fruit salad and a fruit smoothie to wash it all down.
They managed to squeeze out just enough time to carve the letters CSUSB from apples and put them on display.
Oliver and Mambou prepared their tenderloin with mushrooms and asparagus to create a simple but delicious meal.
Their salad used a mix of carrots, vinaigrette and lemon juice.
Andrade and Navarro was the team that drew the most attention with their healthy take on beef tenderloin.
They prepared the beef in a lettuce wrap that was accompanied with a sweet and sour fruit salad that had kiwis, strawberries and chili peppers to balance out the sweet flavors.
“Alexis and Andrea are my likely choice to win because they have the most experience. Alexis even has experience as a baker,” said student Omar Marpuez.
Woods and Ezeagwula prepared their tenderloin with potatoes, spinach, parsley and orange sauce.
As a side they prepared a Mai Tai fruit smoothie to add a tropical touch to their dish.
As the competition wound down, the audience counted the seconds down to end the competition.
The team that ultimately took the prize was Andrade and Navarro with their healthy and delicious wraps.
When asked about the challenges that their team faced Andrade said, “I felt confident going into the challenge but the tricky part was the secret ingredient. You don’t know what is is until you arrive so it can be difficult to incorporate the ingredient.”
Students in attendance enjoyed the competition and described the aromas as delicious.
It was surely an evening to remember.