Hospitality students serve up “Brave Chef” contest

Students prepare their dishes for judging at the first ever Brave Chef cooking competition, hosted by the hospitality leadership student group Fresh Slice.

April 8, 2013

Hospitality students brought some food, fun and competition to campus while having an opportunity to utilize their event planning skills as they hosted the first ever Brave Chef contest. The event is styled after the popular reality show “Iron Chef,” where cooks battle each other and the clock to see who can create the best dishes based on a special, secret ingredient.

The University’s Hospitality Leadership club, Fresh Slice, organized the April 5 event in conjunction with Bradley Dining Services and Aramark, the food services vendor for Bradley's dinning locations.

The winning team Wittlerfam received a $100 cash prize, donated by the Heart of Illinois Hospitality Association.

Ten teams participated in a March practice session and signed up for the competition; however, only the top four teams headed on to the final round after they were chosen through a Facebook vote and based on their menus.

Teams of six competed in the cook-off to complete a three-course meal, which included the secret ingredient pineapple. The students had one hour to finish their dishes.

Pineapple was chosen since it has been a symbol of hospitality for centuries. A pineapple represents welcome, warmth and good cheer whether it was the Caribbean Indians welcoming Christopher Columbus and the Spaniards or the seafarers marking their return to the American colonies or hostesses trying to impress their guests.

Senior hospitality leadership students Dana Robinson, president of Fresh Slice, and Lauren Henshaw, vice president of the group, spent months organizing and planning the event. The pair also received funding from the Student Activities Budget Review Committee to purchase the pantry supplies and decorations.

Other officers and club members also spent many meetings preparing for the competition. All members worked well under Robinson and Henshaw’s leadership to recruit teams, judges and promote the event.  The group worked closely with Chef Karl Wolak, Aramark’s executive chef on campus, to execute a very successful competition. Everyone is already looking forward to next year’s competition.