We each have something to say about the university Iron Chef competition, but we broke it up into two posts: He Said and She Said.
I’m not a terribly competitive person. The only sport I ever played was Track and Field and it was only because my best friends threw shotput and discus too. I don’t get broken up about losing, though it does feel good to win. So when we came in third place at Iron Chef, I felt kinda disappointed, but losing without discussion was even more disappointing. We were very comfortable on time, we could probably have finished 15 minutes earlier, but the judges came around to talk to us about our dishes while we were prepping and making sure everything was going according to plan. Not the ideal time, and had I realized that was our only chance to explain our process, I would definitely stopped what I was doing to talk.
I suppose never having cooked under pressure like that, I had not assumed that they were going to be interacting with us while we were in the zone. (I had never minced garlic so meticulously!)
I will say it was kinda nice that we didn’t have a lot of room to move, since my kitchen is a tiny galley and I’m used to that atmosphere. Helps make sure you have everything within reach too.
I’ve found a large part of doing well in anything is preparation. We were about as prepared as a team could be, so I can live with our performance. The bottom line is that we eat very well probably 6 nights a week, and regardless of what the judges said, our mouths and bellies are still happy.
I also learned that its hard as hell to cook with multiple people in the same space. Blame becomes assignable (I’d rather blame myself than anyone else), and nerves run much higher. Communication becomes essential to not wasting time or materials. Jeremy and I both measured out same spices at one point, and when Jeremy told me to put shrimp over the fryer to keep them warm, Britt thought I was going to actually fry them and nearly took my head off. Granted both situations were resolved quickly, but little things become much bigger under the stress.
Also, this is the first time in a while I’ve had the whole nervous heartbeat/sweating/butterflies feeling. I forgot how much it sucked. The entire time I was mincing that garlic (like a pro), I kept thinking, “Don’t cut yourself and bleed all over that nicely minced ginger and garlic,” and it worked. My trusty Wusthofs didn’t give me any ‘tude. I will say, I couldn’t watch the kid at the table next to me, I thought he was gonna take his hand off the way he was chopping that onion. It was a mess.
If you are reading this and are thinking to yourself, “There’s a way to chop an onion?” do your fingers a big favor and pop over to Rouxbe, its an online cooking school with a 30 day free trial. If you watch nothing else, check out the knife skills. I also recommend the section on pan frying as I smelled many people burning their things at the competition, and before I watched the lesson, I was definitely doing it wrong too. If you like Rouxbe, you can purchase a $99 subscription for a full year (that’s what I did because I use it so much).