UB's own 'Iron Chef'
JSA wins yearly ultimate international cook off
Student Association clubs were given a chance to wow a panel of judges with a signature dish that embodied their cultural identity as part of SA's annual International Iron Chef competition, held Thursday Nov. 14 in the Student Union.
But it was the Japanese Student Association (JSA) - which came in second place last year - that got to take home the title of "Iron Chef."
The event was held by the International Council, a group of culturally diverse clubs that give students the opportunity to learn about other cultures, lifestyles and traditions, in addition to celebrating these experiences first hand, according to SA's website.
"This is a great event," said William Wheeler, a senior computer science major. "Buffalo is one of the few places that celebrates diversity and that's awesome."
Many international clubs looked forward to participating in the competition. Each club was required to use tomato as a key ingredient in three different dishes that consisted of a soup, an appetizer and an entr?(c)e.
JSA's winning dishes included a main course of Hayashi rice, which is hashed beef with a tomato base over rice - a popular dish in Japan. The club also served consumm?(c) soup and a Tofu tomato seaweed salad, which they served in the shape of a piece of sushi.
The club received $200 and though the event was a competition among SA clubs, all UB students were invited to enjoy the food the groups prepared at no cost.
Judges told JSA the foods it prepared tasted like they could have come straight from a restaurant, according to Yutaro Naito, a junior business major who competed in the cook off.
James Ingram, a junior political science major and academic coordinator for SA, was one of the judges for the Iron Chef competition. As a judge, he was looking for dishes that really had that "wow" factor. To earn a perfect score from him, a dish had to combine a perfect balance of flavors, textures and be plated in a professional fashion.
"I believe that events such as the International Iron Chef competition play a vital role on campus in fostering an appreciation for diversity," Ingram said.
The Chinese Student Association made a chicken broth with tomatoes and tofu, beef stew and eggs and onions - a Chinese classic. Josephine Ma, a senior political science major, and Tiffany Lu, a sophomore business major, made the food that was presented to the judges.
"I started cooking about four or five years ago," Ma said. "Both of our fathers were chefs, so that's why we got involved."
Jennifer An, a senior accounting major, was another cook who infused her roots in her dishes. Her short ribs and tomato soup salad incorporated the flavors she learned from cooking classes in Korea and her parents and grandmother.
The Malaysian Student Association's menu included Tom Yum soup, stuffed tomatoes, red chicken and fish cooked by the Bangladeshi Student Association.
Naito, who was born and raised in Japan, described the atmosphere of the event as "a really good place to explain food traditions," because every culture has different customs.
The judging system was an adaptation of the original show, Iron Chef, which originated as a cooking show in Japan. All six judges of UB's versions were SA affiliate; five of the judges were the other council coordinator and the sixth was SA Treasurer Siddhant Chhabria.
The clubs had to submit an application packet listing the ingredients used in their dishes to make sure the judges were not allergic to anything in their recipes, according to Matthew Siwiec, a senior Asian studies and economics major and SA International Coordinator.
Once the groups allowed students to taste all of their foods, they set up a dish especially for the judges.
The tagline for the event was "Taste the world, Experience the Diversity."
The International Council has created many annual events, such as International Fiesta and International Iron Chef, to work to strengthen all of the groups' traditions and expose their diversity to all UB students.