By Robin Fortado, Dining Room Manager, Emmanuel College
Teams of highly trained, ultra-competitive Bon Appétit chefs have been making their way around the Eastern Seaboard competing in elite contests modeled after Chopped!, the hit Food Network television show. Chefs compete to create culinary masterpieces from a box of mystery ingredients in a short amount of time. Each ingredient in the box must be incorporated into the dish for that round, and given the often random combinations of items, that’s often no easy task! The “steaks” are so high, only the brave need apply.
Bon Appétit’s latest such competition was held at Emmanuel College in Boston, MA. This one had a twist: the grueling three-round, four-category battle included teams of not only chefs, but other Bon Appétit employees and students, too.
The five Emmanuel teams competing chose some playful names to cook under: Saavy and the Coop, No Good, Bandits, Cloud 9, and Ego Trip. Judging their creations were Chris Wozny, executive chef at Lesley University; Roystone Martinez, associate director of multicultural recruitment at Emmanuel College; and Nyleesa Graham, a junior at Emmanuel College. The judges weighed presentation, flavor, and creative use of required ingredients to decide which teams got chopped and which ones went on to cook again.
All five teams had 30 minutes to complete an appetizer that included duck breast, cranberries, cashews, and buttermilk. Two teams were chopped. For round two, the three remaining teams had 40 minutes to create an entrée from whole trout, honey, yogurt, and jalapeños. After one team got chopped, the final two teams were tasked with turning apple butter, blackberries, gingersnap cookies, and tofu — yes, tofu! — into a dessert that would wow the judges. No easy task!
The winning team was No Good, with Bon Appétit pasta cook Mark Simms and Henrietta Mwanza from the front of the house. Their dishes included pan-seared duck breast with buttermilk béchamel topped with toasted cashews and citrus cranberries, and a tofu, apple butter, and gingersnap crisp with fresh whipped cream and blackberries, served on sliced Granny Smith apples. Their name may have been No Good, but their teamwork was anything but!