There are plenty of places to get sushi on campus, but few if any feature the originality on display at the first annual Asian Chopped culinary competition, an event hosted by Cornell Asian Pacific Student Union’s First Year Initiative.
FYI co-directors Jennifer Yu ’21, Jeannie Yamazaki ’21 and Grace Shau ’20 judged the cooking contest mostly on appearance and creativity, refraining from taste testing some of the more creative flavor combinations.
“It’s 50 percent presentation, 50 percent creativity, zero percent taste,” Shau said. The table shared by all of the participants was strewn with a bewildering mix of ingredients: avocados, rice, Chips Ahoy!, egg, ham, Oreo Thins and seaweed.
The event mirrored the television show Chopped on the Food Network, a contest in which contestants must incorporate discordant ingredients into dishes on tight time constraints. The format of the FYI event included a 20-minute time limit but a decidedly casual approach to which ingredients were required in students’ dishes.
Victor Butoi ’22 proved his name with a first place prize for his piece titled “Under the Sea,” featuring a choco-pie crab, a hand roll hermit crab, a deli ham sea star and a cookie crumble sea floor.
“The judges were impressed by his command of the canvas (plate), and felt he earned his place as champion for the complexity and artistry of the scene that he depicted,” Yamazaki told The Sun in an email.
Honorable mentions included Priyanka Dilip ’22 for her “socially conscious” piece, “Elon Musk Rocket,” and Samantha Chu ’22 for her “Millennial Snowman,” complete with a Canada Goose cape and avocado toast. Unfortunately, the sushi sculpture met an untimely demise shortly after the judging, tumbling to the floor in a flurry of rice.
The culinary aspect of the event, however, was secondary to the overall mission of bringing Asian American students together to celebrate culture and teaching students how to plan and execute an event from start to finish.
Asian Chopped, one of FYI’s three projects this semester, was spearheaded by organizers Tamara Sato ’22, Liying Wang ’22 and Crystal Tang ’22. Other FYI teams include a bubble tea fundraiser that took place last week and a photography project currently in the works.
Sato said the event went “much better than planned.” Wang added that “we weren’t expecting such innovative designs.”
The mission statement of FYI, is to “create future leaders in the Cornell community by instilling passion and drive, encouraging skills development, and sparking intellectual growth through the lens of the Asian and Asian American experience,” according to their website.