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The Blue & Gray Press | November 23, 2017

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Knives clash in the underground

On Nov. 4 at the Underground the Tin Chef competition was held for the third time. Modeled after the popular show “Iron Chef” on the food network, Mary Washington’s version of this cooking challenge featured a special guest, Dean Rucker, Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Student Life, along with sophomore Meghan Graham, Chris Porter, director of residence life, and Steven Thomas, assistant director of student activities and community service.

Tin Chef is a cooking contest that challenges contestants to create meals with the use of only a microwave and a George Foreman grill. As an added twist, a “secret ingredient” must be incorporated in the prepared dish. This week, the secret ingredient was liquid cheese.

“We give all our contestants an hour to cook,” Karmele Jones said. Jones was the host for the evening, encouraging dialogue by incorporating the audience and interviewing the contestants while they cooked.

Porter prepared gourmet nachos, Thomas and Graham made burgers, and Rucker made salmon hordoerves. When asked was he was planning to cook, Thomas responded, “I’m making a much better burger than Meghan.”

The contestants cooked on four adjacent tables arranged on the stage of the Underground, laden with ingredients such as meats, sauces, and salts. The secret ingredient posed a challenge for Rucker, who mentioned several times, “I don’t cook by the way.”

“Has anyone ever seen the movie ‘The Blob’? That’s what this is!” Rucker said of the secret ingredient.

After an entertaining hour filled with joking from the audience and the contestants, an employee of UMW dining services and a staff member of the Underground Planning Committee judged the dishes through a taste test.

First place went to Thomas, with Rucker and Porter finishing second and third, respectively. Since it was Dean Rucker’s birthday, two cakes were brought out at the end of judging and served to audience members and contestants alike.

Seven birthday cards signed by UMW students were also presented to Rucker at the end of the competition. Contributing to the friendly atmosphere of the evening, Rucker thanked all those present.

“This is heartening, you guys are really special. I love you guys,” Rucker said.

Students are invited to sign up and participate in the next Tin Chef competition, which also offers a prize of 100$ on EagleOne for first place winners.

“I participated because I like to cook and watch the food network a lot, plus you can win money!” Graham said.

Sophomore Melanie Johnson and Senior Lauren Bates came to scope out the competition and plan to sign up for future Tin Chef competitions.

“It’s something interesting and I think I would like to do it,” Johnson said. “I wanted to see what my competition would be.”

“We’re going to team up for the next one,” Bates said.

The competition came to an end as everyone enjoyed cake and the judges enjoyed their various Tin Chef creations. Wielding the microphone above a crowd of smiling faces, Jones encouraged support for Tin Chef.

“It will happen again soon! Come prepared, you might win!” he said.