Students face off in annual Cardinal Cook-Off

Cardinal Cook Off
Breno de Mello Dal Bianco, left, and Leticia Pereira de Souza, right, with mentor coach Daniel Donguines, executive chef of Florence Moore Dining. (Photo by Keith Uyeda)

LETICIA PEREIRA DE SOUZA, ’20, and BRENO DE MELLO DAL BIANCO, ’19, were the winners in the recent 15th Annual Cardinal Cook-Off.

The two were one of four teams of two students each who raced to create a signature dish in just one hour at Residential & Dining Enterprises’ recent Iron Chef-style competition. Pereira de Souza and de Mello Dal Bianco won a set of quality chef knives, a free Teaching Kitchen cooking class and $100 in Cardinal Dollars.

Each team worked with a Stanford Dining mentor chef in the weeks leading up to the competition. Chefs JUNELLE FRONDA, JOE GUINTO, DANIEL DONGUINES and JOSEPH ROLDAN guided the students as they tested and tweaked their recipes. When the big night of the competition arrived, the teams were staggered in 10-minute intervals and had 45 minutes to cook and plate before their dishes were whisked off to be judged.

In an ode to their homeland of Brazil, the two whipped up pistachio farofa-filled chicken thighs with lemon sauce. Farofa, or yucca, is a starchy root vegetable frequently used in Brazilian cooking. It can be roasted, sautéed or, in this case, processed into flour and used as a rub for the chicken thighs. Their dish also featured de Mello Dal Bianco’s fresh kale pasta.

“I’m Brazilian, but my family is from Italy, so I’m half and half. I know my pasta,” he said.

“The Cardinal Cook-off is a great way for our students and chefs to collaborate, and it’s a lot of fun for the Stanford community to come out and watch,” said ERIC MONTELL, executive director of R&DE Stanford Dining.

Judges included SHIRLEY EVERETT, R&DE senior associate vice provost; SUSIE BRUBAKER-COLE, vice provost for student affairs and her daughter, ELEANORSARAH CHURCH, senior associate vice provost for undergraduate education; ELIZABETH ZACHARIAS, vice president for human resources; LISA LAPIN, vice president for university communications; JAN BARKER-ALEXANDER, interim assistant vice provost for student affairs and chair of community centers; and ROSE ADAMS, Stanford Dining ambassador.

For more on the competition, visit the R&DE website.