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Sodexo partners with campus teams for cooking competition
May 1, 2015Tweet
Sodexo Dining Services recently teamed up (literally) with other departments across campus to offer students a night filled with fun and food right in their own dining hall.
Thursday, April 16, marked the second annual Academic Culinary Challenge at Appalachian Dining Center, where Mountainview’s dining hall was transformed into a spectacle comparable to a set of the hit Food Network show, “Chopped.”
The evening featured a night of camaraderie and competition, as five teams put their cooking skills to the test by creating tasty dishes that incorporated the secret ingredients of scallops, lamb chops, radishes, kiwi and peppercorn. Each team had a Sodexo chef overseeing its task of creating an appetizer that featured one of the secret ingredients, and an entrée that incorporated all five.
“We wanted to take a battle-of-chefs style event and provide our faculty and staff with the opportunity to showcase their creative culinary side. The creativity of the competitors and the fun-filled sense of competition I’ve witnessed at this event far surpassed any expectations I had,” said Maria Roberts, associate director of auxiliary services. “We definitely have some very talented people on campus! A fun time is had by all, competitors, chefs and the students who come out to show their support.
“The participants aren’t chefs. We are taking them out of their comfort zone,” Roberts added. “There are people watching, they’re being timed and they have no idea what the secret ingredients are going to be until they get to the cooking stations, but they have fun with it. I look forward to next year’s event.”
The teams included:
• The Taste Trainers from the University Center for Training and Development
• Alumnosh, comprised of Binghamton University alumni
• Team Bearcattitude, made up of faculty and staff of the athletics department
• The Salamander Sizzlers, comprised of Mountainview Residential Life professional staff
• Decker Nightingales, defending champions
“The goal of this event was to showcase Sodexo not being Sodexo, but Sodexo being Binghamton University, and getting the whole campus involved in something,” said Thomas Dello, Appalachian chef manager.
In addition to the main event, there were also tables set up featuring vendors used by Sodexo to provide food to the campus.
Sam and Steve Lupo introduced their brand-new Bearcat Supreme chicken sausage: a chicken sausage stuffed with feta cheese and spinach to mimic the University’s colors of pantone 342 green and white.
Daniel Purdy, chief operating manager at Purdy & Sons, explained to attendees how his third-generation, locally based company sourced meat made from cows who were humanely raised and handled with 24-hour access to the outdoors, no hormones, no GMOs and no antibiotics. This meat is now available in all campus dining halls.
Also in attendance and tabling was the Student Culinary Council (SCC), a group of students that meets bi-weekly with Sodexo management to bring forth ideas, suggestions and feedback, both positive and negative.
“The Sodexo management is very receptive to our suggestions,” said Hannah Kittrell, a senior neuroscience major and vice president of nutrition on the SCC. “They almost always do what we ask of them.”
Jocelyn Resnick ’14 was there to promote Mindful at Sodexo, and teach students how to create a healthy and balanced plate.
“Mindful is Sodexo’s overarching nutrition initiative. If a food is labeled “mindful,” it means it meets a certain nutritional requirement,” Resnick explained. “The ACC is a great way to increase the student’s awareness of what goes on in the kitchens at Sodexo, and to learn more about the resources in nutrition available to them so they can become healthier students.”
Ultimately, the Taste Trainers emerged from the competition victoriously, followed by Bearcattitude and the Decker Nightingales. Though the competition was fierce, no one left feeling like a loser.
“Our chefs got to come out from the behind the scenes, out of the kitchen, and work side-by-side with members of the campus community. They really enjoy getting to teach and interact with the participants. Everyone bonded and worked together, and in that hour, friendships were formed,” Roberts said.
Dello agreed, saying “My team didn’t win, but the camaraderie between them and the other teams showed that we weren’t just Sodexo and Binghamton University. We are one.”