University of North Dakota Dares to Cook

Our partners at the University of North Dakota Dining Services just hosted a student cooking competition, “Chopped” style. In the final cook-off, the leading teams were given beef tenderloin and had to prepare dishes including one fruit, one whole grain, and one vegetable from a carefully chosen list as well as the secret ingredient: radishes. We were delighted to support this fantastic effort by donating prizes.

Here’s what the winning team, Polos Locos, had to say about themselves and their winning dish:

Our team had four members, all of us musicians and friends. We all come from various backgrounds: Australia, Brazil, US, Venezuela, so each of us had distinctive strengths. However, the two skills that we cherished the most were trust and support. We assigned general tasks to each person. For instance, one took care of the protein, another of the carbohydrate, another of chopping, etc. But we tried to serve one another in whichever way possible. At times, each doubted whether the other’s idea was going to succeed or not. Each of us always had an idea, but also the willingness to accept others’ as ours as well. This I think set us up for an enjoyable and unforgettable experience.

The team members were:

Diego Rodriguez (Venezuela): Diego came to America in Fall 2012 to pursue a Music Major in Cello performance at the University of Memphis. He does not follow recipes but rather seek after principles. He likes to think about the end result and work his way there. Diego is a music instructor at the UND community program. 

Flavio Boni (Brazil): Flavio came to America in Fall 2016 to pursue a DMA in Trumpet Pedagogy at UND. Flavio is not a fast-paced cook. He enjoys chopping and preparing the plate with plenty of time, so this competition was a challenge for him. After graduation, Flavio will be the first Brazilian trumpet player holding a DMA in Trumpet Pedagogy.

Tamara Auer (Australia): From Italian descendants, Tamara came to America in Spring 2016 to pursue a Master in Music in Viola Performance at UND. She is a self-sufficient and driven woman who is able to organize and to lead. She organized Australian culture night past Fall 2016 and is also a music instructor at the UND community program.

Matthew Lorenz (US): Fargo born and raised, Matt is a pianist and a cellist. He has won the most distinguished competitions in the state of North Dakota as a pianist. He is also a composer and devoted pursuer of new sounds as well as of improvisation.

Regarding the plate itself, I had been thinking about the ‘Sous-Vide’ technique but never dared to cook that way. I decided to give it a shot and knew that it was going to be either a success or catastrophe. Tamara is culturally an expert of risotto. The big challenges were the fruit and secret ingredient. But I remembered that my mom used to make a sauce based on honey and wine. It came to my mind that pineapple would be a good addition for such a sauce, so I did added pineapple, ginger, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. The meat was cooked sous-vide with fresh rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, garlic, salt and pepper. Before serving, it was seared. The secret ingredient was radish, which seemed to have no place in our plate except as garnish. However, we minced it and added to the risotto in order to add its characteristic pungency. Presentation was of course the big clash of ideas, so we learned that it was better to assemble a spare plate before deciding the final presentation. So we did and were content with the final result.