UMass Amherst Student Iron Chef Team Victorious in Culinary Competition

Iron Chef team
Dining Services' student Iron Chef team members Alex Carstensen, Nicole Mendes, Evan Duerr (back) and Joey Roldán.

AMHERST, Mass. – A team of University of Massachusetts Amherst students won the fourth annual Inter-University Student Iron Chef Competition held Feb. 25 at the University of Toronto to give UMass Amherst its third victory in four years. UMass Amherst scored previous victories in 2014 and 2016.

The inter-university Iron Chef is a culinary event where comradery and friendly competition between countries, universities, culinarians and chefs fosters friendship, goodwill and great tasting food.

Along with UMass Amherst, teams from McGill University, University of Ottawa and the University of Toronto competed.

The victorious UMass Amherst student culinary team consisted of Alex Carstensen, junior political science major, Evan Duerr, a sophomore majoring in Spanish, and sophomore hospitality and tourism management majors Nicole Mendes and Joey Roldán. The team was led by UMass Dining culinary coach Anthony Jung and assisted by operations manager Tim Lane.

The team had two and a half hours to complete their dishes. They were challenged with creating two courses from a mystery basket of ingredients. The first course was an appetizer: “Salmon Three Ways,” which featured seared marinated salmon with tandoori foam, salmon croquette with cilantro emulsion with apple relish, a salmon crudo with fleur de sel, and celery salad with lemongrass vinaigrette and crispy salmon skin.

For their second course, the team prepared an entrée they called “Ontario Maple Leaf Pork,” consisting of bacon-wrapped Ontario pork loin with mushroom marsala jus, beluga lentil agnolotti with highland blue cheese crème, jardinière vegetables, maple-glazed carrots and highland blue cheese crisp.

“We’re so proud of our students,” says Ken Toong, executive director of UMass Amherst’s Auxiliary Enterprises “They worked hard to earn this honor and are passionate about our culture of serving local, sustainable and delicious food, sharing their time and talents to make UMass shine as No. 1.”