At a quick glance, Mongolian Grill was experiencing a flurry of activity as usual, but after closer inspection, one would notice that the chefs occupying the space were not Sodexo staff. Books were swapped with kitchen utensils while backpacks were traded for aprons. The clinking and clanking of pots and pans reverberated through the dining hall as the aroma of sautéed shrimp permeated the air. In the midst of all this, competitors flew across the kitchen, determined to hit their stride. Bentley students were beginning to find their cooking flow, as Sodexo hosted its first ever Battle of the Chefs competition.
45 minutes. The start of the entrée round has just begun as finalists of team Radhika Bansil and Alex DeLong and team Tammy Vo and Karen Chan scrambled to put together a dish that would be creative, presentable, and most importantly, delicious. The chefs had already spent 25 minutes familiarizing themselves with the tools and appliances of the Mongolian Grill during the appetizer round. Now, it was all about finding a way to synthesize the list of pantry items and one of the three “mystery” ingredients that John Carney, operations manager and organizer of Battle of the Chefs, sent a week prior to the event. Pressure began to mount as Bansil and DeLong, later explained, “Our dishes didn’t turn out the way we had hoped… We ended up changing our entire game-plan in the last six minutes.” Their quick thinking paid off as the judges thoroughly enjoyed their salmon with wild rice and strawberry salad, eventually crowning them the winning duo of Battle of the Chefs.
30 minutes. Across the grill, opponents Vo and Chan competed determinately. They stuck with Team Bansil and DeLong all the way to the end through their diligence and impressive cooking skills. Karen prepped well, meticulously cutting the tomatoes and zucchini while Vo kept a watchful eye on the stir-fry needed to be stuffed in the vegetables. Ultimately, however, Vo and Chan fell short as they lost by a heartbreaking one point. Even with this disappointing loss, Vo and Chan exhibited great grace as Vo showed tremendous support of the event praising, “ I had such a great time cooking for the judges and being alongside my big, Chen.” Both Chen and Vo are already looking forward to the next Battle of the Chefs to avenge their loss.
10 minutes. Also looking forward to next semester’s competition is the Bentley community. Bansil and Delong and Vo and Chan both had a strong following as their friends and peers came out shouting words of encouragement to urge them along. Even those who did not know either team members personally, walked up to Mongolian Grill curious to see what all the commotion was about. Never were the chefs alone, only relying on each other even in the arena. An executive chef paced the kitchen floor, observing and offering both teams pointers during and after the competition. DeLong described the executive chef as “so helpful” and his tips as “educational.”
1 minute. The overall success of Battle of the Chefs is encouraging to both the Sodexo crew and Jason Laprade, resident district manager of dining services. When asked about how he thought the event went, he beamed, “I am proud of the students. I wish to draw more of the student body around competition and food. Hopefully it will start becoming a semester tradition.”
3 seconds. Reflecting back on their victory, Bansil and DeLong memorably recalls, “[the food] looks like crap but sure as hell tastes good.”
2 seconds. The competitors would like to send special thanks to the judges and the entire Sodexo team for their efforts.
1 second. Be on the lookout for more events hosted by Sodexo in the near future.
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