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Spring 2003
Volume 39, No. 3
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PCMOnline Editor
Sarah Dolinar

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Cast Iron Chef

Inspired by the popular Japanese television import, a Pomona dining hall was converted twice last spring into a culinary coliseum, as student competitors duked it out with spatulas and frying pans for prizes and the opportunity to take on a professional chef in the ultimate college cook-off.

The competitors in “Cast Iron Chef” had to create dishes using at least one of four theme ingredients: salmon, chicken, shrimp or scallops. Each participant was allowed to bring an assistant and up to two secret ingredients. A panel of judges evaluated the results based on taste, creativity, appearance and use of the theme.

Winner Ryan Wilson ’03, a senior studying philosophy, politics and economics, brought neither an assistant nor secret ingredients to the contest. What he did bring was an insuperable advantage—experience as a cook at a Beverly Hills restaurant. Wilson’s winning entry included chicken Alfredo, sauteed salmon with wine and mashed potatoes, and Thai salad with shrimp and scallops. “It was simplicity,” Wilson said of his victory. “I didn’t have to do too much.”

Wilson went on, a week later, to win the cook-off versus professional chef Michael Williams, director of the Frank Dining Hall. The winning entry included alligator steak with Cajun rub over corn pudding, with a cream sauce of okra and tomato.