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Food Science Update! Iron Chef WSU is March 2!

Posted by struscott | January 15, 2007
Sugar and spice and everything nice? No way: Iron Chef WSU is a cutting-edge competition that puts everything on the chopping block.
Sugar and spice and everything nice?
No way: Iron Chef WSU is a
cutting-edge competition that puts everything on the chopping block.

Washington State University Chef Jamie Callison and his team edged out the student Dream Team for the second year in a row in a tight Iron Chef WSU competition that featured “secret” ingredients bacon, sweet potatoes and kiwi fruit.

Callison, executive chef for WSU’s School of Hospitality and Business Management, won the second annual competition this past weekend with 521 points. Approximately 700 people attended the Mom’s Weekend event at the Gladish Community Center here. Callison’s menu included a ginger ale-battered sweet potato dish with a variety of sauces, a deconstructed bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich using bacon, Cougar cheese crackers and lettuce from the WSU organic garden, and a kiwi brioche bread pudding for dessert.

The Dream Team, comprised of four WSU students led by Jessica Pickett, used the secret ingredients to create a sweet potato curry soup with crème fraiche and sweet potato fries, and a deconstructed bacon ravioli with ricotta cheese and alfredo sauce. The students also developed a trio of kiwi desserts – a kiwi-champagne shooter, kiwi-pineapple ice cream, and a vanilla cookie spoon with chocolate, kiwi chunks and raspberry reduction.

Judges scored each team’s creations based on taste, flavor, presentation and use of the secret ingredients as well as organization and sanitation. [Updated April 17, 2007]

Iron Chef WSU Preliminary Competition Schedule for March 2

Cutting action from the 2006 WSU Iron Chef Competition. Photo by Tim Marsh.
Cutting action from the 2006 WSU Iron Chef Competition.
Photo by Tim Marsh.

How do you make a meal of halibut, fresh zucchini, and dates? You concoct “Sleazy Halibut” (halibut cooked in white wine served over couscous with puttanesca sauce), goat cheese stuffed zucchini fritters with crème fraiche and date pastry pinwheels over macadamia honey with rum ice cream and chocolate ganache. That’s what the slicing and dicing winners of the semifinal Iron Chef WSU came up with. The Dream Team (Jessica Pickett, Soo O, Matt Charbonneau, and Josh Rockwell) now go on to challenge WSU’s reigning Iron Chef Jamie Callison on Saturday, April 14th at 5:30 p.m. in the Gladdish Community Center Auditorium (115 NW State St. in Pullman). The event is free, and free pizza will be provided for all audience members. Be sure to plan on attending this year’s no-spice-barred thrill-a-thon!

Discover Food Science

“We take our food for granted,” says Josie Landon, a grad student in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and president of the WSU Food Science Club. Consider the ever-popular frozen pizza, she urges: “few people consider the engineering brain-power that went into making that crust just so—not too chewy, not too crunchy.”

The WSU Food Science Club is on a mission to raise awareness of food and food science. “I was a chemistry major as an undergrad,” says Landon. “It wasn’t until my junior year that I even knew food science existed.”

Food Science Club distributing samples at Lentil Fest (Estaban Mejia, Josie Landon, and Maria Rosales)
Food Science Club distributing samples at Lentil Fest (Estaban Mejia, Josie Landon, and Maria Rosales)

The Club’s food-science awareness culminates next month in Food Science Week (see schedule below). A Monday through Thursday series of noon-hour lectures, with free goodie give-aways, ends on Friday with a trip to Sunnyside Elementary School where the Club will spend the day doing food-science demos for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. The demos bring to life some basic principles of science, such as the difference between an acid and a base, at the same time as being just plain fun. Using safe household materials, club members show kids how to make Play Dough and ice cream in a baggie. The day at Sunnyside ends with a bang: blowing up a gummy bear.

Another highlight of Food Science Week is an Iron Chef competition. Like the show on the Food Channel, two teams (in this case Food Science students) walk into a kitchen stocked with common ingredients as well as five secret ingredients. The challenge is to use the secret ingredients to prepare several dishes in a short period of time. An announcer will provide food-science tinged color commentary. The winning team will go head to head (or this that spatula to spatula?) with a professional chef from WSU Dining Services.

Food Science Club tours the Oregon Spice Company in Portland. (Front Row: Erin Tulke and Aditi Kannan. Middle row: Estaban Mejia-Meza, Elizabeth O’Daffer, Luan Weekes, Amanda Culley, Jennifer Brown, Lili He, Josie Landon, Jennifer Marcotte (tour guide), Maria Rosales.  Back row: Maureen McFerson, Sean Moran, Mike Costello, and Daniela Bermurdet
Food Science Club tours the Oregon Spice Company in Portland. (Front Row: Erin Tulke and Aditi Kannan. Middle row: Estaban Mejia-Meza, Elizabeth O’Daffer, Luan Weekes, Amanda Culley, Jennifer Brown, Lili He, Josie Landon, Jennifer Marcotte (tour guide), Maria Rosales. Back row: Maureen McFerson, Sean Moran, Mike Costello, and Daniela Bermurdet

Landon and her grad-student colleague, Melissa Sanborn, love food science. It’s all about “interdisciplinary teamwork,” says Sanborn, “and you get to work with people from lots of different backgrounds.” “It’s very rewarding,” adds Landon, “because you get to see a product you’ve helped develop on store shelves. That’s exciting!” Both women are researching the sensory aspects of wine, a burgeoning field that brings together aspects of both science and marketing.

The Food Science Club is affiliated with the Institute of Food Technologists, an organization that helps students with scholarships, industry connections, and jobs. Landon points out that food science is a great field to get in to, as there are more jobs waiting than there are grads. Recent food science grads have gone on to jobs with Pepsi and Master Foods.

And the best part of food science? Josie Landon says it all: “You get to eat your lab experiments.”