People love eating food and watching competition. The Chef Throwdown, based on the Food Network show “Iron Chef America,” combined these two aspects at this year’s Annual Food Expo on April 3 in the Student Activities Center Ballroom A.
Every year, the Faculty Student Association and Campus Dining present an Annual Food Expo.
“The Annual Food Expo and Chef Throwdown Cooking Competition, started in the 1990’s as a collaborative effort between the Faculty Student Association (FSA) and Campus Dining to enable the Stony Brook campus community to discover the origins of the food we serve on campus and the care and quality that goes into every dish,” Angela Agnello, the director of marketing & communications at FSA, said.
The highlight of this year’s expo was the chef competition. Four chefs from different campus dining locations – Peter Garst from East Side Dining, Sean Morrell from West Side Dining, Romel Velasquez from the SAC and Tony Green from Roth Cafe –showcased their skills by making their best dish in 45 minutes using the mystery ingredient, halibut.
The chefs created one show plate and three tasting dishes to be judged by both a panel of student leaders and the general audience, who tasted samples. There were two votes the chefs could win: the student leaders’ votes, which determined who won the chef competition, and the popular vote from the audience.
After the exciting competition was over, Chef Green from Roth Cafe was announced the overall winner based on the student leaders’ votes.
“It was a good competition. I enjoyed it. I had fun, competing with such great chefs, I’m honored to be here,” Green said. “I was a little nervous at first, but I started having fun, really. The night before, we practiced going over this stuff, and I was not definite what I was going to do, but I had some idea what I want to do. Maybe this competition style should be continued, and after a little while I would change it up. I want always changes; adding up and build up, making new.”
Preparation for this competition was different for each chef. Chef Garst, the second place winner, said he used the weekend to prepare for this competition, while others did not prepare at all.
“I have prepared nothing for this competition,” the winner of the popular vote section, Chef Velasquez said. “You know what? I’m a chef. I do this every single day with a different basis, different stuff every day.”
“We’ve been planning for this for about six weeks now, since before the spring break,” Gary Arthur, the Sodexo district manager, said. “Usually a lot of these kinds of events happen in the spring semester, after everyone comes back and wants something more exciting. We will have this competition style again in next year, and we are going to have this twice a year.”
Campus Dining plans to have a student competition in the upcoming fall semester as well.
“The students will be selected from their submission of a recipe and will work in teams of two,” Arthur said. “A chef will be assigned to them and they will train for two or three weeks. They will then compete in the same fashion with an audience as the chefs did yesterday. They will have logo and name uniforms, professional tools, and prizes awarded to all participants.”
These campus dining chefs cooked this event to success, and students thought so as well.
“It’s been nice that they have this many tables and samples for the Food Expo every year, but I don’t think they’ve had a competition like this before, I think,” Tanya Barbot, a graduate student studying marketing, said. “I like this competitive atmosphere.”
Samar Mahdi, a senior business management and psychology major, agreed with Barbot. “I wish I was not graduating,” she said.