About five hours before Michigan and Michigan State University faced off at the Big House on Saturday, another kind of competition was brewing on the lawn of the Michigan Union.
Michigan Dining and the Center for Campus Involvement hosted a three-round cooking contest between the two rivals Saturday morning, styled after the television show Iron Chef, featuring both students and the executive chefs from each school.
The event, which ultimately saw the University fall to MSU 311-303 points, drew about 30 people.
“We’ve got this pairing between Michigan and Michigan State for a while,” said University Executive Chef Frank Turchan, who coordinated the event. “Both teams have been looking for a venue like this for a while … They battle on the field, we battle in the kitchen.”
Slurping Turtle owner Takashi Yagihashi; Becky Schilling, editor in chief of Food Management magazine; and two student representatives from the University’s Residence Halls Association judged the event.
LSA seniors Ashley Muehleise and Taylor Wood, who took on a breakfast sandwich challenge in the first round, represented the University as student chefs.
“We managed to get all the food on the plate with 90 seconds to spare,” Muehleise said after the round.
Wood said their strategy was to focus on planning ahead for each step of the cooking process, and emphasize good presentation.
The second round was a battle between each school’s executive chefs to see who could create the best ramen.
As the round progressed, light-hearted trash talk ping-ponged back and forth between the chefs, with Turchan asking MSU Corporate Chef Kurt Kwaiatkowski if he needed any help as the “little brother.”
Kwiatkowski responded by getting MSU fans in attendance to chant “Go green, go white!” at his competitor.
Turchan said after the round that maintaining the rivalry was fun, but also noted the welcoming atmosphere during the event.
“It’s such a great rivalry, but I got to say that everyone here has received us with open arms, and it’s such a great experience,.” he said. “I’m glad that we could throw it all together.”
The third and final round asked the executive chefs and a selected team of their staff to create a signature dish from the competing schools while use an ingredient from the event’s sponsor, the National Pork Board — a pork pectoral muscle.
Though the University lost, Turchan said the event overall was a success. Both chefs walked away with plans to continue the competition.
“We are planning to make this a tradition,” Turchan said. “The food has brought a lot of us together. I learned a lot more about the University — I mean, the sign shop helped us build the trophy, a lot of people from different departments wanted to support us. There’s a lot (of) synergies going on here.”
LSA sophomore Sydney Ohl, who attended the cookoff, said she enjoyed the event.
“Both teams look like they’re having tons of fun, and making great food in the process,” she said.