By McGill Reporter Staff
It takes just a quick glance at the many food-related television shows and channels or at the plethora of cook books stocking the shelves of bookstores to realize how popular cooking has become. Not just popular, but also competitive, as will be seen at the University of Toronto from Feb. 24–26, when a group of McGill students will lock paring knives with teams from four other North American universities in its quest to be named University Iron Chef champion.
Other teams at this year’s showdown include host University of Toronto, University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Ottawa and Yale University.
McGill was on the cutting edge (so to speak) of the competitive culinary scene when Executive Chef Oliver De Volpi cooked up the first Inter University Iron Chef competition, hosted at McGill in 2014.
“I knew some of the chefs and Food Services directors at other campuses and I invited them to send teams,” says De Volpi. “As far as I know we are the only schools who hold an Inter University Iron Chef, so that makes us unique.”
McGill has never won the Inter University competition, although it did win the Brownie competition in 2015.
Before the Inter University version there was the Inter Rez Iron Chef Competition here at McGill. The whole thing started as a competition launched by De Volpi in 2011 as an event in the annual Rez Wars.
“It seemed like fun for the students in residence to generate points for their [team] by cooking,” says De Volpi. “Montreal is a food city and the quality of the food culture here is high. We wanted to bring that food culture onto the campus. It all made sense and the residence students jumped right in.”
De Volpi and the residence chefs run the inter Rez Iron Chef Competition, basically a cooking playoff between residence cooking teams, to decide what team will go to the Inter University competition.
This year’s Inter Rez Iron Chef competition will be held on Jan. 28, with teams from each of the University’s 10 residences. The winning team will go to Toronto, accompanied by Chef De Volpi and residence chef coaches.
McGill’s Iron Chef team will be substantially younger than other teams, because most students in residence at the University are in their first-year. De Volpi is hoping that youth and enthusiasm will be key ingredients to the team’s recipe for success.