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Iron Chef competition adds spice to International Week

Woks sizzled and spatulas waved furiously in the air as two teams went head to head in an iron chef competition in Johnson Dining Hall Tuesday. Given a secret ingredient of Ahi tuna, 10 student cooks (five on the black team and five on the red team) worked fast to create flavorful dishes in their allotted time of one hour.

The event, based on the popular Iron Chef television show on the Food Network, was part of Lehigh's International Week, which runs through Saturday.

"The teams were asked to make one appetizer and one entrée—using Ahi tuna in both—and then present the dishes to four judges," says Chris Janneck, graduate student, president of the Global Union, and coordinator of the event. "The criteria for putting together the teams for the International Iron Chef was that at least two of the members had to be from outside the U.S.," he said.

The judges—Joe Abel '04, editor-in-chief of The Brown and White, Michael D'Alessio '04, president of the student senate, Pam Pepper, associate professor of theater, and Mike Lupori, resident district manager of Lehigh Dining Services—waited anxiously as the cooks garnished plates and added the last few spices.

Then it was mealtime. "I am very impressed—nicely cooked and presented," Pepper said of the black team's sesame seared tuna in a pineapple and soy marinade, coupled with a salad with ginger dressing and sushi with cucumber and a secret sauce.

"The meal was a total package, and it provided a nice taste of Asian culture," D'Alessio remarked on the red team's tuna dish prepared with cucumber, orange, and some other secret ingredients coupled with sushi made from tuna, cucumber, rice, and tomatoes.

After the plates were nearly cleaned and the scores were tallied, the red team came out slightly on top and walked away with $150 (the runner-up received $100), and yet another International Week event was judged a success.

The red team consisted of Luna Xu, Lan Ding, Qinqin Zhang, and Adam Man (all from China), Rong Jing from the U.S. The black team consisted of Reid Gronostajski, Heather McFall, and Ashish Kapilafrom (all from the U.S.), Bhumi Patel from India, and Katrina Cokleski from Macedonia.

"We have had a tremendous turnout so far this week," says Bill Hunter, director of the office of international students and scholars, about Lehigh's International Week, the largest of its kind in the country. "So far, about 600 students have turned up for events, and we still have 24 more to go!"

Hunter says it’s the students who have worked so hard to make the week a success. "About 50 to 60 students helped coordinate this week--it's a great empowering experience for them."

One of the most successful events so far, aside from Iron Chef, was Monday night's international building competition, where 10 teams of five students each were asked to build a recognizable international structure out of a given material, such as cardboard or Popsicle sticks. Additional events scheduled for the week include an international Jeopardy game, a Southeast Asian Dance Troupe, Greek Music and Dance Festival, World Religions and Weddings, and a festival and Eat-a-thon to wrap things up on Saturday night.

--Elizabeth Shimer

Posted on Wednesday, November 12, 2003

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