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Student Workers Face Off in Iron Chef Contest

Winning dish too good to describe in a few words

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In the video above, students compete in the fifth annual Iron Chef contest. Photo by Vernon Doucette

Fried, crispy bacon is usually a crowd pleaser, and it certainly pleased the crowd at the fifth annual Iron Chef competition, held last week in the George Sherman Union. 

The bacon was a key ingredient in the contest’s winning entry: a honey barbecue chicken sandwich, with cheddar cheese and ranch dressing, served on toasted sourdough bread and accompanied by beer-battered onion rings.

“I think we won because our dish was more comfort food–like than the other dishes,” says Kayla Fernandez (CAS’13), a member of Team Purple Kevin, from Warren Towers. “It’s something that everyone turns to. And everyone loves bacon.”

Team Purple Kevin’s concoction was up against four other dishes: orange chicken with fried rice, a shrimp po’ boy, rigatoni and sausage in a white wine sauce, and bibimbap, spicy Korean beef with veggies and rice topped with a fried egg.

Sponsored by BU Dining Services, the Iron Chef competition pits teams of Dining Services student employees against one another to see who can cook up the most popular dish. 

For the past year, student employees from Warren Towers, Myles Standish, Towers, Shelton Hall, and Fresh Food Company at West Campus have faced off in preliminary competitions; five made it to the finals last week.

“Last year we held individual Iron Chef competitions in each of the dining halls, and it was very well received,” says Scott Rosario, marketing director for Dining Services. “We wanted to make this year’s event a larger competition, and deem one dish the winner of the campus-wide competition.” 

To make sure that no dining hall had a home-field advantage, Rosario says, the competition was held in the GSU.

In the final round, about 2,000 students tasted each of the final five dishes and voted for their favorites. The judges—Kenneth Elmore (SED’87), dean of students, John Battaglino, executive director of the Student Activities Office, Walter Dunphy, BU’s executive chef, and Tony Fazio, executive chef at Maggiano’s in Boston—then had their say, and the winner was announced.

Team Purple Kevin’s winning barbecue sandwich will be served in all of the dining halls during the fall semester. Each member—Fernandez, Kevin Roberts (CAS’13), and Brittney Shillan (CAS’11)— won a $250 Best Buy gift certificate and a trophy displayed in Warren Towers. 

“We thought it would be easy because it was a simple sandwich, but there are a lot of elements to making it,” Fernandez says. “We had to bread it, fry it, make our own breadcrumbs, and slice all the onion rings. I appreciate what the chefs do every day.”

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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