International Cook-Off Recap

The Competition Heats Up At The International Cook-Off

Last week was International Education Week, a nationwide program dedicated to celebrate the benefits of global education and exchange experiences. Kent State participated in this joint initiative by hosting over two dozen informational and cultural events that culminated in the highly-anticipated 12th annual International Cook-Off on Thursday, Nov. 21. The free event, hosted by The Office of Global Education and supported by Kent State’s Dining Services, took place from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Kent Student Center Ballroom.


Around 560 attendees, volunteers, and staff attended this culinary competition that pit six teams of students against each other, each representing their home country’s traditional cuisine with an entree and a beverage intended to win over the panel of judges as well as the crowd. In addition to the judges recognizing the top three teams, attendees were also able to vote for their favorite team and recipe for the People’s Choice Award. This year’s teams represented the countries of Vietnam, Columbia, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and China.


In an exciting twist, the team from India was chosen as the 1st place winner by the judges and also received the People’s Choice Award. They won with their delicious renditions of classic Indian fare—butter chicken and green peas pulao with a mango lassi as the beverage. The team of five graduate students prepared a feast of grilled golden chicken pieces in an incredible creamy curry sauce of tomatoes, salt, butter, and an aromatic blend of garam masala spices, served with a side of subtly seasoned basmati rice and peas. Team member Monica Gosh explained that butter chicken, one of the most common dishes in northern India, was a great way to represent Indian cooking because of its popularity and distinctive flavor that appeals to all kinds of flavor palettes. She and her team were overjoyed with their victory, and they wanted to thank all those who came out to the event to appreciate the cultural heritage of India.


Indonesia came in second place with their selection of Halal lamb rendang, a flavorful red meat dish cooked in coconut milk and a pemasak spice mixture, and es buah, a mixed fruit cocktail in sweet coconut milk and pandan syrup. Indonesia’s team captain Noor Agustina says they chose this entree because, although the rendang flavor is very rich, “it's light enough for everybody from any country to just love it. Along with the side dishes, they are superb combination to complement each other to give you remarkable experience of Indonesian cuisine.”


Third place was taken by the Chinese team with their choice of sweet & sour pork with pineapple, which was complemented by a refreshing passion fruit iced tea. “Although the sweet and sour pork is popular and common on the local Chinese restaurants' menu,” said team captain Yang Su, “we still want to show a unique cooking style and home-made flavor for the Kent community.” The reason they chose passion fruit iced tea was, in the words of team captain Yang Su, “just as simple as its name: we have a passion for the culinary world!”


The Cook-Off was a multi-week endeavor for each team that included hours spent planning their menus, training in proper food preparation procedures, and cooking the massive quantities of food necessary to feed the hundreds of attendees. Their hard work was made possible by the dozens of volunteers, workers from Dining Services, and Kent State staff members who also spent weeks organizing and hosting the competition. The goal of the event was not just to expose people to delicious new dishes from around the world, but also to celebrate the cultures and countries from which they come. Ultimately, every team was a winner.


If you missed this year’s International Cook-Off, don’t worry; there’s always next year! In the meantime, you can check out photos of the event on Facebook @KentISSS.

Written by Jacob Kulas, Office of Global Education Fall 2019 Intern