Reality TV came to Eastern New Mexico University on Thursday night in the form of an Iron Chef competition. It was a survival of the fittest — in the kitchen, that is.
Six teams, made up mostly of Family and Consumer Science majors from around the state, had to endure a chef’s worst nightmare of a challenge. They had to create an impressive menu with ingredients assigned to them at random, mystery ingredients that they learned about only minutes before having to cook, then present the food to a panel of judges.
“Let’s go get ‘em!” LaTrenda Wheeler of Clovis said as teams were instructed and led into their kitchens. Besides running around making sure all of her teammates had the right ingredients, she did the cutting, slicing and dicing.
Wheeler described herself as the “runner” for the Peach Team, which, after several minutes of discussing their grocery list and collaborating, came up with a menu of green chile spinach pasta with veggies, fresh spinach salad with fruit and banana peanut butter pie for dessert.
“Preheat the oven,” Laura Robbins of Portales immediately instructed one of her teammates as she began looking for a glass pie plate.
“Where are the pie plates,” Robbins nervously asked, thinking about the clock ticking away.
“The pie plates are in the drawer labeled pie plates,” responded Lanell Leatherwood, a retired food service teacher and principal who helped coordinate the culinary affair that was one of the final events being held in conjunction with the ongoing “Key Ingredients: America by Food” Smithsonian exhibit” at ENMU’s Golden Library. The exhibit, which ends Monday, was one of the drawing points that brought the New Mexico Association of Family and Consumer Sciences’ annual meeting to the Portales campus for the first time. Conference attendees made up many of the Iron Chef competitors.
“This will help us learn to be versatile in the kitchen and to learn to work with what we have” Wheeler said. “The exciting part is working with each other because everybody has their own way of making things.”
Food was judged on taste, presentation and teams were also judged on the presentation of their tables they decorated.
Among the other dishes teams cooked up were vegetarian nachos, hot fruit combo, vegetable medley pasta, pasta salad with sautéed vegetables, garlic toast, cheese cake cookie parfaits, pasta with creamy sauce, vegetable dip and a cream cheese desert.
Many of the ingredients used in the competition were donated by local dairies and Sunland peanuts. The winning team won bragging rights, and when all was said and done, they all got to taste each other’s creations.