‘Cook Off’ is coming back

By Damian Gordon

Taste of FIU returns Dec. 1 for the University’s annual United Way auction. The cook off will take place in the Graham Center, testing who has what it takes in front of an expected hundreds of attendees.

This marks the third time this contest will be held at FIU and big changes are happening. Now, those under 21 will be allowed to attend for the first time.

The competition is open to any student, faculty and alumni without experience as a chef or assistant chef.

There will be three elimination rounds with the top three chefs will receiving prizes and the Best Chef gets the grand prize and bragging rights.

Assistant Director of Event Management Vanessa Vasquez, has had her hands in the since the start being the one to pitch the idea.

Photo courtesy of FIU Graham Center

Vasquez likes the unpredictability that anything could happen during the competition every year.

“I look forward to the surprises…the person who you think may have the least experience turns out to sometimes be the one that wins the competition,” Vasquez said. “And I love to see the University community come together for a great event.”

The guest judges will be professional chefs and restaurant owners and competition will be stiff as past winners are invited back to defend their title of Best Chef.

Some are requirements to enter are: attending two information sessions about guidelines and fundraising for the participation fee.

Students are also excited about the competition like a junior psychology major Trinniece George, who lives in her kitchen sweating up a storm making dishes such as brown stew chicken or macaroni pie.

“It’s actually a good idea. It allows other students to experience how cuisine is made from different countries,” George said.

George doesn’t like Tofu because it tastes like “wet paper,” but still thinks students should broaden what they eat on a daily basis.

“Try and expand your taste buds, instead of just having ramen,” George said. “Mix it up a little bit, instead of throwing water in and popping it in the microwave. Boil it; add a little seasoning, add a little flavor besides the one in the little packets.”

While this is no mechanic contest, Vasquez noted wrenches will be thrown at contestants like back in the first year.

“Season 1 included some curve balls for our contestants as our first round was a vegetarian round that included an ingredient most people had not heard of, watermelon radish,” Vasquez said. “I don’t think they will ever forget that vegetable.”

The auction goes toward assisting families and individuals within the community. Last year’s event raised over $22,000. Tickets will be $10 and include unlimited drinks and food.

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