While most Brown students have to rely on the Sharpe Refectory for some Tastes of the World, the participants in the Office of International Programs' Top Chef competition last Thursday displayed some of the foods that these students enjoyed when they studied abroad.
Contestants gathered at 7 p.m. in the OIP office for their chance to show off their culinary flair to the strains of music from different corners of the world,
The competition — which was organized by OIP Associate Director Ned Quigley — was part of a "series of re-entry events" for students returning from study abroad, said Adrian Doyle, an OIP study abroad adviser.
It helps "keep them connected to their country," said Andrea Lipkin, an OIP study abroad adviser.
During the competition, four judges carefully tasted each food entry and asked the contestants questions about their dishes, which they prepared beforehand and brought to the competition.
After the tasting, the judges gathered to make their deliberations, leaving the contestants to mingle. During this time, contestants shared battle stories about their guerilla cooking endeavors in their dorms and reminisced about their experiences studying abroad.
The dishes represented an assortment of delicacies from various cultures. Rocio Bravo '10 made tortilla espanola — a Spanish omelette appetizer made with potatoes — and recounted the difficulty of peeling the potatoes without a peeler.
Stephanie Le '10 partnered with Alexis Mancini '10 to recreate Anzac biscuits and Lamington cakes, two dishes that they discovered from their time abroad in Sydney, Australia. The lack of some cooking supplies limited the team's options, Le said, adding that being short an electric mixer "ruled out some dishes."
Michelle Morales '11, who partnered with Julia Salinas '11 to make limonada suiga — a lime, condensed milk and ice water drink — said the "stress seemed more manageable" in Brazil.
After lengthy deliberations, the judges announced that Amos Lichtman '10 won first prize for the risotto and tiramisu that he perfected during his time abroad in Bologna, Italy, last spring.
David Goff '10 won second prize for his rendition of knackebrod, a rye wheat and fennel seed cracker. Goff grew to enjoy the traditional Swedish snack during his time studying abroad in Stockholm, Sweden — however, he has not yet won many converts to the unique snack back at Brown, he said.
Kelsey Peterson '10 earned third prize for her trifle — an English raspberry, pudding and custard confection — that she was introduced to during her studies junior year at University College London.
The edible creations of the eight contestants were evaluated by four judges, who donned chef hats from the Ratty.
Food Network enthusiast Youenn Kervennic, a lecturer in French studies and resident director of the Brown-in-France program, said his French nationality figured in the coordinators' decision to include him as a judge.
Others were chosen because they would bring a more objective point of view to the judging table. Associate University Chaplain for the Roman Catholic Community Henry Bodah said he was just an "innocent bystander" who worked in the same J. Walter Wilson corridor as the event's coordinators when he was recruited to judge. The event's two other judges were Senior Study Abroad Adviser Linda Brault and Office of International Student and Scholar Services Assistant Director Jamie Kendrioski.
The first prize winner received $50 and the second and third prize winners each received $25. All contestants also received certificates for a free scoop of ice cream at Ben and Jerry's.
Reflecting on the night's success, Doyle said he hopes the competition will become an annual event.