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BAASA hosts an 'Iron Chef'-style competition

By Leanne Ortbals
On October 10, 2011

Two words: ramen noodles. The faux-Asian staple is coming to Brandeis on October 14 in the Epic Ramen Time cooking competition hosted by Brandeis Asian American Students Association. "It will be Iron Chef-style where all five teams cook at the same time," said BAASA Events Coordinator Karen Hu '12. "One of the BAASA board members will host it like they do on the show, and everyone that comes will get to watch the chefs cook. Then we will have our seniors and upperclassmen of the e-board judge the event."

Co-president Vicky Lee, '13 explained the inspiration for the first-time event: "Epic Ramen Time was inspired by a Wong Fu video, which is three guys that make comedic shorts on YouTube. We saw one where they had a ramen competition and we thought if we brought it to Brandeis, we could unite people from other clubs. Ramen unites all Asians, and non-Asians like it too."

Though Epic Ramen Time focuses on food, like many BAASA events in past years, the club hopes to shift the spotlight away from the free food. "We are trying to step back from that this year. We still will tie in food to our events because it's cultural, but we also want to focus on the social aspect and forming tight-knit members," said Hu. After the cook-off, BAASA will show a movie to allow people to hang out as they enjoy ramen.

While Epic Ramen Time promises to be a fun, one-time event, Vicky's twin sister and Co-president Stephanie Lee, '13, explained that the goal of the event extends beyond the cook-off. "This is a new idea and it's great to see how many people want to participate, but we want to get more people involved in BAASA and bring people together. I look forward to seeing how people respond," she said.

The BAASA board has used the planning of Epic Ramen Time as a way to include new members. The club set up an events committee for the first time to allow more students to participate in brainstorming and planning BAASA events. "There are 10 students on the committee. We have open discussions and as co-presidents we try to guide the discussion. For a lot of the committee members, Epic Ramen Time is the first event for BAASA they have planned," said Vicky.

In coming up with Epic Ramen Time, the events committee focused on Asian-American culture for inspiration. "We identify ourselves as Asian-American versus just Chinese, and so our drive for this club is to spread that Asian-American culture," said Stephanie. "We brainstormed ways to explore that culture and we came up with the ramen competition."

Once the events committee decided upon a ramen competition, they needed a name for the event. "We were thinking of Epic Meal Time," said Vicky. Epic Meal Time is a short cooking show on YouTube. "They make these really intense dishes, like once they made massive meat dishes, and so we based it off that but with ramen as the focus. We liked that the name was relatable to something outside of Asian culture. That way, it shows the fusion of Asian-American culture which is what BAASA is about."

With the event less than a week away, Vicky explained that logistics planning is important. "We have to make sure we control the event. It's new, so we don't know what to expect. We want to make sure everyone understands the rules of the competition and that we get people involved in the event." She also stressed that publicizing the event is key. "We want to make sure that people attend."

To encourage attendance, BAASA is giving free T-shirts to the winning team to up the stakes. They are also giving attendees an opportunity to choose the post-cook-off movie via a poll on Facebook. However, ramen alone should be enough to draw people in. Hu said, "People love ramen. I love ramen and ate it my entire first semester at Brandeis. I make shin ramen; it's pretty spicy. I put in crab meat, fried egg, scallions, and it's really good with cheese."

Epic Ramen Time will be held in the Intercultural Center lounge on Oct. 14 at 7 p.m., but Vicky noted that if people can't attend, their next big event is only a week after the cook-off. "We are bringing Jubilee Project to campus. They are three Asian guys that make videos for social change. They will talk about their videos and how it relates to being Asian." Jubilee Project's first video benefitted Haiti and they have since partnered with prominent organizations to raise funds.

To learn more about BAASA or Epic Ramen Time, visit BAASA's website at people.brandeis.edu/~baasa/ or email BAASA1112@gmail.com.


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