The University of California at Davis prides itself on having one of the most sustainable dining programs in the country, one that makes plenty of use of local, fresh products.
To promote that mindset, the college in 2011 launched a program called the Green Chef Challenge in which teams of students compete in an Iron Chef style cooking contest to produce healthful dishes incorporating a locally sourced secret ingredient.
The latest edition of Green Chef Challenge involved three teams representing the school’s three dining halls, Cuarto, Tercero and Segundo. Each was assisted by a dining staff sous chef or platform cook and the winners got to see their creation on the dining hall menu in a scaled up version.
The competition featured fennel as the secret ingredient and the winner was a dish called Fennelicious Frittata (a frittata made with cage-free eggs sitting on a grilled flatbread topped with a carrot and dill salad, with a side of roasted beet chutney) from the Cuarto team. It was featured on dining hall menus on March 18th.
The other two creations were Veggie Bao (vegetables stuffed into balls of pizza dough baked with egg wash, then topped with tahini sauce and a side of pickled fennel) and Curry Potato Pancakes (featuring a vegetable curry, marinated tofu and a garnish of pickled fennel with onions).
Previous Green Chef events had featured products like kohlrabi and daikon as secret ingredients.
Each team has four to six student members while another dozen or so support the event by passing out educational materials and doing sustainability awareness raising activities.
Judges at the event were Joanna Wirkus, a fourth-year clinical nutrition major and nutrition intern with dining services; Jianna Robertson, a student programmer for sustainability in student housing; and Raoul Adamchak, Market Garden and CSA coordinator of UC-Davis’ Student Farm, which supplied the fennel.