Students lined up in the freezing cold outside Ida Noyes on Saturday to eat pierogi from the Polish American Student Association, sushi from the Japanese Club, and soochiki-round bread sticks from the Union of Russian Students, as part of this year's International Food Festival, organized by the Asian Students Union (ASU). The evening included three floors of food stations and musical performances, in addition to the Japanese Club's Iron Chef competition, which was complete with an elaborate entrance, humorous commentary, and up-close cinematography.
This was the second year of the Iron Chef Competition at the International Food Festival but the first year that the J-Club organized it alone.
There were several new additions to the show, including a lengthy red carpet, eight-foot-tall projection screens, industrial-size ovens, and three burners for each competing team.
This year the J-Club also extended an invitation to other Chicago-area colleges."Why not reach out by connecting to other clubs," Lee said.
Columbia College was the only college to accept the challenge.
"We are very excited to experience a new place and new architecture," said Columbia College Team Asia, which was composed of Igor Taver, and Tejal and Jagruti Mehta.
Rommel Garcia, a student in the College and president of Samahan, the Filipino student group at the University, was competing for the second time. "I got robbed last year. I got too ambitious and made too many dishes. I planned better this year," he said.
Repeating last year's triumph for the Food Network, Iron Chef Mabel Ning overcame the competition, assisted by College students Rebecca Wu and Raymond Tan.
Portbello, shitake and white button mushrooms were the featured ingredients. Mushroom ice cream and tofu-mushroom sushi rolls were among the winning dishes.
The Iron Chef competition was only part of the evening's varied events. Sixteen cultural groups participated in this year's festival offerings of international foods in Ida Noyes.
"You get to see different people and different kinds of food," said Marina Kopeliovich, a second-year in the College who was handing out Russian sweets at the URS table.
There were also performances by Rhythm and Jews, MAJ'N, Loose Roots, Ransom Notes, the Chinese Undergraduate Students Association, Arab Union, and Capoeria throughout the evening.
"It's one of those events where the whole University comes together. There is nothing that unites people like food. It is the U.N. of food," said fourth-year in the College Daniel Lee, vice president of the Korean Students Organization.
Most groups did not make their foods but purchased them from ethnic restaurants. The foods offered were a mixture of the familiar and the unfamiliar.
"You have a dead cow. What should we do with a dead cow? We turn it into this," Lee said when asked about an unusual looking dish.
The event was also sponsored by Wachovia-Integrated, Holistic Solutions, Scott E. Langfitt Sr. Vice President Investment Officer, Noodles Etc., and the Student Government Finance Committee.