Freshmen Compete for Top Chef Annenberg

All about Top Chef Annenberg- reposted from the Crimson.

“Three, two, one, GO!”
Katie G. Walsh ’14 ran into the Annenberg, grabbing various ingredients like rice, green beans, and pasta sauce. Meanwhile, her teammate Viroopa Volla ’14 set up the cooking station.
Walsh and Volla, along with 11 other freshman teams, were competitors in Top Chef Annenberg last night. The teams had 30 minutes to cook an entrée and a dessert using only the ingredients in the dining hall.
“Twenty five minutes!”
Walsh and Volla share a passion for cooking. Walsh, whose grandfather owns a Lebanese restaurant, decided to make yakhni, an ethnic dish that involves rice and creamed vegetables in tomato sauce with cinnamon. For dessert, Volla decided to try her hand at a peach apple cobbler.
“Fifteen minutes!”
As the competition hit the half way mark, Volla cored the apple with a butter knife. Deconstructing the peach pie from the dining hall, Volla stuffed the peach filling into the apple and topped it with granola, cinnamon, and whipped cream.
“Ten minutes!”
While making yakhni, Walsh realized there was one key ingredient missing in the dining hall: ground beef. Walsh had to improvise by ordering a hamburger patty from the grill, which she minced with butter knife.
“Five minutes!”
Each team prepared one plate of food for the judges, to be evaluated on presentation, taste, creativity and sustainability.
Math Professor Benedict H. Gross ’71, former dean of Harvard College and a guest judge, said he will look for food that not only tastes good, but is also healthy and has a combination of flavors.
“I’m not a foodie, but I like to eat,” he said, adding that he frequently watches the TV show “Top Chef.”
Another judge, Jonas V. Clark, the dean of Oak Yard, said it was fun seeing what students can do with Annenberg ingredients.
“Creativity is what I am looking for the most,” he said.
“One minute remaining!”
As the time ticked down, the competitors placed the finishing touches on their dishes.
Walsh scooped a spoonful of pasta sauce and cinnamon into her mouth. “Mmhm, tastes like home!” she said.
Familiar ingredients in the dining hall were transformed into unrecognizable culinary masterpieces, such as the deconstructed peach cobbler, rosemary chicken with wilted spinach, and a caramelized apple, granola, and cream cheese wrap, which were presented to the judges.
“I get first dibs on dessert!” Clark said, eyeing the apple peach cobbler on the table.
The winners of the Annenberg competition, who will be announced this afternoon, will go on to compete with the winners of the House Top Chef competitions for the title of Top Chef Harvard on April 13.
—Staff writer Jane Seo can be reached at
–Photo by: Nazc-a-ru H Gonzalez

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