AMHERST, Mass. – For the third consecutive year, a team of University of Massachusetts Amherst students has won the annual Inter-University Student Iron Chef Competition held at McGill University on Feb. 24 in Montreal, Canada.
It was UMass Amherst’s fourth win in the five years of the competition, which promotes friendship, goodwill and, of course, great tasting food. The Iron Chef contest arose from a 2011 culinary contest among 10 McGill residence halls. The competition grew to include other Canadian and American universities in 2014, the first year UMass Amherst won.
This year’s competitors hailed from Carleton University, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, as well as McGill University and UMass Amherst.
Presented with two required proteins and a mystery box of ingredients, each team had two hours to create one appetizer and one entree. They were challenged to use four of the five presented mystery ingredients.
The UMass Amherst appetizer, “Teres Major Steak Tartar,” complete with sunchoke puree, porcini puffed wild rice, horseradish aioli and pomegranate gastrique, was voted best appetizer and was described by judge Lesley Chesterman as the best steak tartar she has ever eaten.
For their entree, the UMass team prepared “Slow Poached Salmon,” consisting of Parisian beet gnocchi, grapefruit, fennel, pickled mustard seeds, beet emulsion, and crispy skin salmon.
The victorious UMass Amherst student culinary team consisted of students Cole Pettengill, Evan Nathan Duerr, Emmett Vorspan-Stein and Nicole Mendes. They were led by culinary coach and multiple American Culinary Federation gold medal winner chef Bob Bankert.
“I am so proud of our UMass Student Iron Chef team. They worked hard, focused as a team and crafted some truly fantastic dishes,” said Ken Toong, executive director of UMass Amherst Auxiliary Enterprises. “It was a very tough competition and all competitors should be congratulated. The level of culinary ability displayed by all teams was incredible.”
In addition to Chesterman, a food critic and columnist, the panel of judges were Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University Office for Science and Society, and Juliette Brun, owner of Juliette & Chocolat.
The 2019 competition will be held at UMass Amherst.