Top Chef Cooks for Charity

The clatter of pots and pans and the aroma of cooking food filled the African, Latin, Asian and Native American (ALANA) Cultural Center and Memorial Chapel kitchens last Saturday, April 18, as student teams competed in the Colgate Activities Board’s (CAB’s) second annual “Top Chef” competition. The competition, based on the hit television show on the Bravo network, brought 16 teams of two students together for an afternoon of friendly and tasty competition.

While this is the second year that CAB has held this competition, this was the first year that it was done as a charity event to raise money for the Hamilton Food Cupboard.

“With the economy the way it is now, we really wanted to do an activity that would give back to the local community, especially since most CAB events are only for the University,” CAB Travel and Recreation Executive and junior Daniela Koci said. “The Hamilton Food Cupboard is always looking for donations, and they also fit well with the ‘food’ theme of the day.”

The 16 teams met at 2 p.m. in the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop), where they were first presented with a “quick fire” challenge: designing a delectable dessert in just 20 minutes. The judges then chose the four best desserts, their favorite being an “apple bowl” which Koci described as “creative” and “basically everything you could want in a dessert.”

The four winning teams then began the next phase of the competition by “drawing knives,” each labeled with a category that the team would have to base their entrée dish around. The four categories were “seafood,” “pork,” “beef” and “chicken.” Once the teams chose their food group, they were given one hour and $100 to shop for ingredients in Grand Union, before heading to ALANA and the Chapel to cook their dishes.

In the end, the “seafood” team of seniors, Rae Reynes and Kaitlyn Godfrey, emerged on top, producing a Thai-inspired dish with noodles and wantons impressively made from scratch. The dish also included cooked vegetables and shrimp, and went above and beyond the judges’ expectations.

“It was an unanimous decision,” Koci said. “Everything was just cooked really well, it tasted great and it was also something we weren’t expecting. It was perfection.”

Reynes and Godfrey received $400 for their efforts, second place received $200 and the two remaining teams tied for third and each received $100.

Ultimately, the “Top Chef” competition was a huge success, both for the competitors, the judges and the Hamilton Food Cupboard. Each team paid a $10 entry fee, raising $160 for the Hamilton Food Cupboard. According to participants and judges, the best part of this event, however, was how much fun it was.

“It was a huge success, definitely something CAB will continue to do in the future,” Koci said.