The atmosphere may not have been as flamboyant as its televised cousin, but U of T’s first-ever Iron Chef competition contained the same frenetic energy as the Food Network cook-off show. In the Sidney Smith cafeteria, 10 teams of three students battled to create a gourmet meal (each team used the same selection of ingredients) – which was then judged on taste and presentation by a panel of professional chefs. Team Afrekans boiled and baked their way to first place with salmon in a red wine sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and cabbage Cobb salad. The reward? 1,500 “flex” dollars valid at campus Sodexho food outlets, the company that organized the November event.
“I used to be known for burning water, so everyone I know is surprised,” says Afrekans member and New College English student Sheena Blake – who prepared the salmon. She credits her improved skills to teammates Rodney Mills (centre), an economics and geography major at New College, and brother Denzel Mills, an information technology student at U of T at Mississauga. The brothers often cook at home, where Denzel acts as head chef and younger brother Rodney performs as sous-chef. They took this approach in the competition, with Denzel creating the all-important sauce and Rodney preparing the potatoes. The two say they inherited their passion for food from their mother, whose specialty is African soups. “Cooking is in our blood,” says Denzel, “but so is competing.”