Phi Tau hosts Iron Chef competition

By Fiona Ewing | 2/3/14 9:00am

I’m a reality cooking show junkie. Over winterim, you definitely would have found me lying on the couch watching Food Network. Throughout the years, the network has degenerated into a slew of cooking competitions, featuring shows like “Iron Chef,” “Chopped,” “The Next Food Network Star” and “Cupcake Wars.” But I’m not complaining – there’s something about the heat of the competition, the delicious-looking food and the fact that there’s no pressure to actually learn how to cook anything that just keeps me coming back for more.

This Friday I was already looking forward to going to Phi Tau and watching their Iron Chef competition, but when I walked through the door and was asked to be a judge . . . well, let’s just say I’ve never heard the word “yes” come out of my mouth so fast. This was the closest I was ever going to get to be a part of a show that I’ve spent countless hours watching. That is, if you don’t count the fact that I might end up on Worst Cooks in America.

Teams from Phi Tau and Alpha Theta, two of Dartmouth’s coed fraternities, were competing for the glory. Each team had to make an appetizer, a main course and a dessert, using a secret ingredient that the other team had selected for them. Alpha Theta had to use oranges in all of their dishes, and Phi Tau had to use poblano peppers. Upon realizing that I would have to eat a poblano pepper dessert, I began to second-guess agreeing to be a judge. But believe it or not, that cheesecake with poblano pepper sauce was amazing.

Once the competition kicked in, people in oversized chef hats were scrambling all across Phi Tau’s kitchen as if their lives depended on it. But questions such as “can you Google cupcake-sized quiches?” and “what is this mush?” being thrown around helped relieve the intensity of the competition.

When it was time for judging, I found myself sitting at a table being graciously presented with dish after dish. I kept thinking this might just be the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, but I really had to focus to grade each dish on taste, plating and originality. I felt so powerful that night, and not just because I was judging alongside Dean Charlotte Johnson. Although Phi Tau ended up the victors, Alpha Theta created some incredibly original, delicious and healthy dishes. I never new kale chips could taste so good.

Fiona Ewing