GGC hosts Iron Chef-inspired competition

The heat was on in the Georgia Gwinnett College dining hall last night as two teams of students competed in an Iron Chef-style contest to create the best dishes for a panel of judges.

The heat was on in the Georgia Gwinnett College dining hall last night as two teams of students competed in an Iron Chef-style contest to create the best dishes for a panel of judges.

The students competed in a “kitchen stadium” temporarily staged in the main dining room. Under the guidance of GGC chefs Joe Polanco and Stephan DeBoe, the students were faced with the challenge of planning, preparing, plating and serving an appetizer or salad, a main entre and a dessert within an hour and a half.

To make the contest even more challenging, the students had to incorporate a secret ingredient, unknown even to their mentors, into each dish. After being told the secret ingredient was wasabi, the teams had a few minutes to discuss strategy before they were allowed to begin selecting ingredients from a meat display as well as a rack of fresh produce, spices and other items.

“We did this to get students involved and give them a taste of what goes on in the kitchen,” said Polanco, GGC’s executive chef. “The students came up with the ideas for tonight’s dishes and we helped them with execution. They did an awesome job.”

The audience included the judges, guests and students enjoying their dinner. On the cooking stage, the student teams received personal instruction from their mentors, and looked skilled themselves as they tackled double boilers and complex reduction sauces.

The panel of judges included several students, faculty and staff members who ranked the dishes for flavor, presentation and other factors. GGC President Daniel J. Kaufman was on hand for the award presentation. Polanco’s team won by a narrow margin.

“I signed up for this because I thought it would be fun and because I love to cook,” said Neil Hilario, a freshman majoring in biology. “Chef Polanco taught me some good techniques I will use in the future.”

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