By Mike Foster
If at first you don’t succeed, fry, fry again. That’s the mantra for three uOttawa student finalists in the Iron Chef interuniversity competition that will take place in the Dining Hall on Saturday, February 20.
Last year, on their first attempt, Lindsay Trottier, Annalisa Weber and Courtney Azure did not make it through to the qualifying rounds. However, in November 2015, their versions of macaroni and cheese, with breaded topping and bechamel sauce, were the right recipes to earn a chance to represent uOttawa in the final competition.
Trottier, a second-year biopharmaceutical student, said: “I personally wanted to prove to the judges that we have what it takes to win and that we didn’t get discouraged by being cut last year.”
“We decided to try again, mainly because we had fun last year and wanted to see if we could do better,” added Weber, a second-year biochemistry student.
The uOttawa team will be hoping to benefit from their home kitchen advantage as they host teams from McGill, the University of Toronto, Yale and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Teams receive a black box of mystery ingredients and have two hours to make two dishes. This year, uOttawa will let the teams see the ingredients on the Friday night before the competition to give them more time to plan.
The three students have been preparing for the contest by meeting with uOttawa executive chefs David Debernardi and Nicholas Namespetra once a week since the semester began to learn different cooking and plating techniques.
“My favourite dish is pork picatta with white wine and capers served with pasta. Another favourite is chicken Madras served with rice,” said Trottier. “Both my parents are amazing cooks and I was brought up helping in the kitchen as much as I can. I cook foods from different cultures and love trying new and difficult recipes.”
Azure, a second-year biomedical student, said: “My grandparents used to own a restaurant and have been head chefs at restaurants. I love to watch them cook and sometimes I would help them too.”
Weber says she likes the classic roast dinner, with gravy and potatoes.
“I first got into cooking through my mother. I would help her out in the kitchen and she would show me how to make different things,” said Weber. “My family is German, so I learned how to make a lot of classic German foods.”
The competition aims to encourage young people to learn how to cook and appreciate healthy foods.
“I want to show them that just because we’re young, it doesn’t mean that we can’t create unique dishes that are simple and made well,” said Trottier.