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Student chefs compete in "Ramen Time"

By Leanne Ortbals
On October 18, 2011

  • Kevin Wang ’14 (left) and Aaron Yang ’14 finish up a version of ramen noodles amid the hectic competition. Jenny Cheng
  • Oliver Ling ’14 prepares ingredients for his team’s ramen noodle soup. Jenny Cheng

Eight teams battled it out in the Intercultural Center Lounge last Friday to claim the title of the first "Epic Ramen Time" champions in the competition sponsored by the Brandeis Asian American Students Association. The Iron Chef-style cook-off was divided into two rounds with four teams cooking at a time. Each round lasted 25 minutes. The dishes were presented anonymously to the panel of judges, composed of five students from the BAASA executive board and five student guests.

Before the event, the judges specified four categories for evaluating the dishes: "We have a judging sheet based off presentation, creativity, taste and use of the secret ingredient," which was tofu, announced judge and BAASA Co-treasurer Adam Chow '12. "The categories are weighted so taste is the most important factor. All the judges will score the dishes and then we will add them up to determine the winner."

"25 minutes" was written on the chalkboard, and the countdown began. Teams Snickerdoodle, SEAC, Koreans in Da House and Domination started off in round one.

Host and BAASA Intercultural Center Representative Ruizhi Jiang '14, interviewed the chefs as they cooked, like host Alton Brown on Iron Chef America. Between rounds, he gave a rundown of the first four teams' performances. "The strangest combination I've seen is lemon and spicy ramen. The teams are being very creative. One team made a unique curry dish popular in northern China. They cooked the ramen in hot water, washed it with cold water and added ice. Then, they put tofu, the secret ingredient in there," Jiang commented.

Two of the first round participants, Brian Le '14 and Kevin Wang '14 from Team SEAC, named after the Southeast Asia Club, used an interesting approach to get the judges' attention. "Our strategy was Spam and eggs. As much protein as possible." said Wang. "We also used soy sauce, tofu and hot sauce. We fried the tofu. It's common to go with meat."

Le and Wang's two other team members, Aaron Yang '14 and Brian Sipin '12, helped finish their dish in the allotted time. "The time limit wasn't bad. We finished on time but I can't say the same for some of the other teams," said Le. "The cooking was the best part with the time winding down, the pressure building, and being in the moment. We don't really do any cooking outside of this since I live in East [Quad] and Kevin lives in [Usen] Castle, but I think we did well and have a shot at winning."

Though Team SEAC showed their enthusiasm, the winning team came from round two. Teams ICC Peanut Butter, Miso Impossible, Cool Beans and Panda battled for the win in the second 25-minute showdown. After all the scores were tallied up, Team Panda was crowned the winner of "Epic Ramen Time." Team Panda's members cooked a spicy ramen dish with eggs, pepperoni, roast beef, bok choy and, of course, tofu. Their dish excelled in the creativity category by forming animal shapes, such as pandas, using the pepperoni and other ingredients.

Team Panda members won BAASA shirts and EZ passes to use for the rest of the year. "The EZ pass allows students to cut in line for food if they come to any featured BAASA events. It's pretty cool," said Ruizhi.

Even though only one team took home the title, the night was about more than the cook-off. "There are nearly 40 contestants, but there are also general BAASA members here because we are showing a movie after the event," said Chow. The God of Cookery was chosen as the film of choice via a Facebook poll on the BAASA page. Guests seemed to enjoy the film which helped to make "Epic Ramen Time" another successful BAASA event.

For their next event, BAASA has invited Jubilee Project to visit campus on Oct. 21 in the Olin-Sang auditorium. Jubilee Project makes videos to raise funds and awareness for deserving causes. Visit the BAASA website, http://people.brandeis.edu/~baasa/ for more information.


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