Students showcase their culinary talents at the Cardinal Cook-Off

Cardinal Cook Off
Kevin Guo, ’22, prepares the risotto for his “ooo-baby pork chops” at the 16th annual Cardinal Cook-Off at the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. (Photo: Keith Uyeda)

Stanford undergrad and graduate students recently showcased their culinary talents at Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) Stanford Dining’s CARDINAL COOK-OFF competition at the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. The Iron Chef-style event, now in its 16th year, made history when two teams placed first in the annual competition.

The event is hosted each year by Stanford Dining as a way for students to demonstrate their knowledge of food and to encourage healthy eating habits. During the week leading to the competition, contestants concoct their original recipes with guidance and mentorship from an R&DE professional chef. Using locally sourced and sustainable ingredients, students this year were challenged to create a dish that featured heirloom mushrooms and pork chops.

On competition night, four teams of two students had 45 minutes to prepare their recipes before a room full of diners and a panel of judges.

Cardinal Cook Off
“Ooo-baby pork chops” tied for first place in the Cardinal Cook Off. (Photo: Keith Uyeda)

Team One consisted of grad students VINCE PANE, chemistry, and SCOTT ZHANG, mathematics. Working under the mentorship of Chef ERICA HOLLAND-TOLL, the students prepared “crispy porkobello with forest mushroom and prosciutto ragu.”

Team Two consisted of undergrad economics majors MARCO LORENZON, ’20, and CHRISTOPHER LU, ’20. Working with Chef TAMI LIN, the students prepared “seared pork chop with parmigiano mushroom risotto.” And on Team Three, undergrads RUBEN SANCHEZ, ’22, management science and engineering, and KEVIN GUO, ’22, computer science, worked under the mentorship of Chef JOE GUINTO. Their dish “ooo-baby pork chops” included a creamy risotto studded with sautéed portabellas and chanterelles, then topped with a dusting of knobby fungi, also known as shaved truffles.

Undeclared undergrad ALP AKIS, ’21, returned to the cook-off with his Team Four partner, RICKY YOUNG, ’21, engineering physics, after placing second last year. Working with Chef DANIEL DONGUINES, they took inspiration from Young’s hometown, Tokyo, for their ambitious dish, “tonkotsu ramen.” Tucking thinly sliced chashu pork into a bowl of ramen noodles made from scratch, they topped their creation with a sous-vide mirin-infused egg yolk. Young called the culinary oeuvre “a happy accident” when a poached egg proved too runny.

Once each dish was complete, the contestants plated their creations and awaited as a panel of judges critiqued their work. In a surprise twist, two teams – Three and Four – tied for first place. Each contestant won a set of quality chef knives and $100 in Cardinal Dollars. Each winner also received a free class at The Teaching Kitchen@Stanford, an R&DE program for Stanford students, faculty and staff to learn valuable culinary skills.

This year’s judges were SHIRLEY EVERETT, senior associate vice provost for Residential & Dining Enterprises; ELIZABETH ZACHARIAS, vice president for human resources; CHRIS BRIGHT, director of Stanford Redwood City; JEANETTE SMITH LAWS, director of student unions; JAN BARKER-ALEXANDER, assistant vice provost for student affairs, centers for equity, community and leadership; FRED ALEXANDER, resident fellow at Lagunita; and ROSIE NELSON, vice president of the ASSU.

For more, read the full Roundabout story on the Stanford News website.