Original cuisine reveals ability, tickles tastebuds


Denis Perez

Team Dilly Dilly celebrate their win in the kitchen of Aqua Terra Grill during the Culinary Clash on Sept. 6

By Gabriel Quiroz, Staff Writer

The Aqua Terra Grill was filled with culinary arts students eager to share their work Thursday as they stood proudly behind their group’s dishes for their competition event the Culinary Clash.

Culinary Clash, the new name given to the previously titled Iron Chef competition, is held at the beginning of each semester in the culinary arts department. It is an event where students compete in teams against their peers with dishes they have been inspired to create.

According to culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes, six teams, each with five culinary students, face off by combining their skills and knowledge to make a dish from mystery ingredients found in the culinary arts department’s food pantry.

Each team has a leader, but students work cohesively as everyone on the team has an important role.

At this level, no one is really above or below anyone else in the kitchen.

The patrons in the grill who sampled the food created in the Culinary Clash all seemed eager to try the selection of dishes created as each offered a variety of flavors brought together by students.

The restaurant itself is fancy and can seem a little intimidating upon arrival. But warm greetings from the staff quickly alleviates that thought.

On Thursday, customers were seated at elegant tables with fancy folded napkins and elaborately placed silverware and the all-student wait staff was very attentive to patron’s needs.

It wasn’t all serious though, as the team names were humorous and original.

Most of the names were unique, like Chop It Like It’s Hot, Oddsquad and Chefaholics.

The five members of each team each had individual tasks to complete. Some prepped and cooked the food, while others gave great descriptions while serving their dish with a proud, yet humble, smile.

The team dishes were quite different from one another as team Elite 4 created Greek pasta salad. Team Chop It Like It’s Hot made steamed beef bao and team Dilly Dilly made Monte Cristo with pineapple and plum sauce paired with a plum ice cream.

The winning team, Dilly Dilly, worked together to ensure their dishes’ exceptional quality and originality shined brightest.

Their team consisted of culinary majors Maggie Alinsod, Mikaylah Cayanan, Cristina Sanuk, Ellen Chou and team leader Jamie Ferns.

The team spoke of each other in a kind and joyous manner, stating multiple times that, although they had a leader, they were all equal in their group.

Alinsod said, “Someone always steps in to help the others.”

The group chose to make Monte Cristo with pineapple and plum sauce and a side of homemade ice cream with plums from Jamie Ferns’ backyard.

Although team Dilly Dilly won the clash, the competition was very close. Team Simplicity was hot on their tail.

Second place went to team Simplicity for its delicious take on a popular dish. The team served barbecue chicken and duck taco with cilantro, lime and scallions.

Event attendee Ann Nuygen said, “They had very good service. My favorite was the duck tacos. Also, the price point was good.”

While preparing the tacos in the kitchen, team Simplicity member Robin Jasso said, “I’m excited about the event and to show people that we know what we’re doing in the kitchen.”

Winners of the Culinary Clash received gift baskets for each member of their team with items such as cookbooks, cooking utensils, coffee and other amenities in the $50 range.

The Aqua Terra Grill opened this week with the Culinary Clash serving as a final preparation for students to know what to expect throughout the semester.

The price of the event did increase from previous years, but for good reason. In the past, admission was $5 for the meal, but people would often order drinks, so it was changed to $7 to factor drinks into the price.

The event seemed to not have as many students in attendance as one would hope. However many employees, family members and friends of the students attended the event.

Multiple guests leaving the Aqua Terra Grill after tasting all of the dishes said that it’s not fair to choose just one winner and that all the teams’ creations were amazing.