‘Iron Chef’ competition underway at Brandon University’s Harvest Hall

November 26, 2019

A man stands and talks in front of a room of people
Food services manager Nicholas Namespetra goes over the rules for Brandon University's Iron Chef competition.

Three teams have qualified for an inaugural Iron Chef competition that will be hosted next semester at Brandon University’s Harvest Hall.

Teams were picked following a series of ‘minute to win it’ challenges overseen by Harvest Hall chefs, who will also be coaching each team. Held earlier this month during a public session at the BU dining hall, fans and students cheered on contestants as they peeled potatoes, chopped onions, and whipped cream — all by hand, under the watchful eye of the professional chefs.

“These were not easy competitions!” said Nicholas Namespetra, manager of food services at BU. “Potatoes had to be perfectly clean, with all the eyes removed; a full litre of cream had to be whipped to stiff peaks using a hand whisk, and all the onions had to be consistently chopped to one-inch pieces — there were some tears during that one.”

Image features words Iron Chef at top, with two crossed knives and Brandon University below. A stalk of each wheat forms a semicircle at each side of imageEach competition was timed, with contestants who accomplished each task in less time gaining an advantage in picking their future teammates.

Following the competition and team selection, each team was paired with one of the professional chefs at BU’s Harvest Hall. Over the next few weeks and months, they’ll learned some basic and advanced kitchen techniques before facing off in an “Iron Chef” competition, where they’ll be challenged to make a series of dishes using ingredients that won’t be revealed to them until the competition itself.

“This was awesome,” said Doug Pople, BU’s Career Planning Officer, who was lightning fast at peeling potatoes before falling behind while trying to get all his onion pieces the same size.

Students, faculty and staff were invited to try out for the competition.

“We are opening up the kitchen for everyone,” Namespetra said. “This is one way we can show off the freshness of our ingredients and the skill we bring to the table while teaching some valuable life skills and also having a lot of fun. You won’t find this level of transparency and engagement at too many other restaurants, which is one of the benefits of being part of a community like Brandon and Brandon University.”

Harvest Hall is open to everyone, with a completely new daily menu that focuses on fresh, local and healthy meals at an extremely friendly price point. Combining variety and convenience, each meal includes grill entrées, a build-your-own bar, a carvery, and salad bar, as well as daily lunch and dinner specials. Recent offerings have included piri piri chicken, Korean beef ribs, Porchetta and mussels in a creamy potato leek broth.