A team of five Kenyon students dished out some competitive cooking in April. The team, called Fidel Gastro, took second place in the Platinum Chef Competition held by the company that runs the College’s dining service, AVI Foodsystems.
The group, directed by Meagan Stewart, AVI executive chef at Kenyon, competed at Hiram College against Hiram’s team and three other teams from the University of Mount Union, Malone University and Tiffin University.
Each group was required to make three dishes in 60 minutes, including the same secret ingredient in each course in the style of the popular TV show Iron Chef.
The Kenyon team — Kyuto Tashiro ’15, Juliet Warren ’17, Mattias Galliano ’15, Camelia Milnes ’15 and Katherine Hoener ’15 — decided before the competition with Stewart, known as Chef Meagan around Peirce Hall, to integrate a pâte à choux,or cream puff batter, no matter the required ingredient. They said they thought cream puffs could accommodate nearly any ingredient for an inventive appetizer or dessert.
When popcorn was revealed as the secret ingredient, team Fidel Gastro’s planning was put to the test.
In the end, the students created a menu that was as curious as it was mouthwatering: for an appetizer, a “roll” of smoked salmon stuffed with carrots, red peppers, blackberries and popcorn with a popcorn peanut sauce; an entree of popcorn kernel polenta with parmesan with seared popcorn-crusted tuna and jalapeño popcorn; and an orange grapefruit cream puff with caramel chipotle popcorn.
“The judges at Hiram loved our dishes, for the most part,” said Milnes, a biochemistry major from Massillon, Ohio, though she noted that one judge didn’t like the team’s use of strawberries as a garnish.
The group, which competed at Kenyon the last three years for the chance to represent the College at the competition, was proud of the second-place trophy. “I wish I wasn’t a senior, so I could do it again next year,” Milnes said.
By Matthew Eley '15