Competitors at the upcoming inter-university competition must create at least two dishes with the ingredients that they are given in the black box challenge. Photo: CC, Stu Spivack.
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Science students set to represent U of O at inter-university competition

Foodies came together at this year’s annual Iron Chef competition, hosted by the University of Ottawa’s Food Services in the U of O dining hall. The Iron Chef competition was launched in 2014, and every year it brings new faces and flavours to the mix.

Every year, teams made up of three compete against each other to improve tried and tested recipes in an attempt to wow the judges. The winning team then goes on to represent the U of O in the inter-university competition and fight winning teams from other schools.

This year’s contest was held on Nov. 14, and among the contestants were three friends and avid food lovers: Lindsay Trottier, Courtney Azure, and Anna Weber.

The team, calling themselves the “Spice Girls,” are all third-year students in the U of O’s Faculty of Sciences and have been friends throughout their university careers.

Trottier and Weber have known each other since kindergarten, while Azure later joined the group in their first year of university. Since then, they have been honing their cooking skills together. Their journey to make the most of their culinary skills started when they first happened to notice a poster for the cooking competition in  first-year, at which point they joined the contest.

In their second year, the girls won the U of O Iron Chef competition and went on to be finalists in the inter-university competition, facing winners from schools like McGill and University of Toronto, but they unfortunately couldn’t claim the top spot.

While the team was excited to participate in this year’s local Iron Chef Competition, they did not anticipate their win.

“There was only (an) eight-point difference between the first and the fourth place,” said Trottier. “We started thinking of all the stuff that we did wrong. But when they said our names, we were surprised that it happened.”

To turn up the heat for this year’s competition, the team chose a more difficult dish—cooked scallops with celery root purée, olive tapenade, and sautéed mushrooms.

Ultimately, the three ladies believe that teamwork is what helped them grab the top spot.

Because of this surprise win, the trio has once again been chosen to represent the U of O at the 2016 inter-university competition, which is set to be held at the U of T on Feb. 24.

An exciting component of the upcoming contest is the new and improved black box challenge. In the past, contestants were given ingredients in a black box without knowing what to expect and told to create something out of them. This year they will get the list of the ingredients a night before the date of competition, allowing for a little bit of prep time to decide on a recipe.

“We have a night to plan the dish. We can choose what we want to cook and we have to choose a number of vegetables,” said Azure.

But the trio don’t plan to walk into this new challenge unprepared. Until the date of the competition they will be trained by professional chefs working with the U of O. Hopefully with enough training and creativity, they can harness their group talent and bring home the title.


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