by Wesley Yiin, PC '16
Twelve teams of three chefs each competed for $1,000 in the final round of Yale’s fifth annual Iron Chef Yale: Final Cut on Thursday, February 21, 2013. The competition, which was co-sponsored by the Yale College Council and Yale Dining, allowed students to demonstrate their culinary talents to their friends and schoolmates.
The teams were chosen from a preliminary round that took place on December 9, 2012 within each residential college dining hall. The winning teams of these first competitions then progressed to the second and ultimate round, representing their respective colleges.
For three hours, the teams occupied half of Commons Dining Hall, working tirelessly at their stations to prepare an appetizer and an entrée for the judging panel. Following the tradition of the television program for which the contest was named, each team was given a type of bean (chosen from black, garbanzo, kidney, or pinto) and a type of fish (cod, haddock, pollock, or salmon) to incorporate into their dishes. The plates were served to the four judges: Ron DeSantis, Director of Culinary Excellence; Stephanie Lyness, New York Times food writer; Mary Miller, Dean of Yale College; and Rafi Taherian, Executive Director of Yale Dining.
Zachary Bell, Natalie Drucker, and Kuang He—all juniors in Pierson College—took home the top prize with their cheese taqueño appetizer and fish balls entrée. “We just made what we would want to eat,” said Bell. He expressed surprise at his team’s victory despite this being the trio’s third time competing. “We all just like to cook, and we’re all just competitive people,” he explained. The Saybrook and Davenport teams placed second and third, respectively.
The event was open to the Yale community as well. Students packed into the dining hall and used their dinner meal swipes to gain access and watch the teams compete live. The other half of Commons was lined with vendors that gave away complimentary samples of many different types of food, including sushi, pastries, empanadas, and soups. In addition, students were given tickets that entered them into a raffle that awarded two iPad2s and a chicken tender dinner for ten to three lucky spectators.