CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – It’s the battle of the foodies and the very first competition of its kind at the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Dining Hall. Who will win the classic rivalry of science versus the arts at the first ever Islander Dining Hall “Iron Chef” Dean’s Challenge?
Stepping out of their usual roles as faculty deans, Dr. Mark Hartlaub, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, and Dr. Frank Pezold, Dean of the College of Science and Engineering, are ready to put on their cooking caps in the fiercest cooking battle ever heard of in the history of the Islander community.
“I think my chances of winning are really good,” said Hartlaub. “Dean Pezold has more experience than I have because of his Louisiana and Cajun connection, but we are only making one dish, not 20!”
The Iron Chef showdown, taking place on Thursday, Oct. 20, from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Dining Hall not only gives the deans an opportunity to engage with the campus community but also gives them a chance to show off their cooking skills.
“I have been cooking since I was 9 years old,” said Pezold. “Cooking for me is a way to relax. I taught my wife to cook when we first got married. I like to cook for my family, but my busy schedule doesn’t allow it often. I cook on holidays, though. I will be making a turkey and sausage gumbo for my family after Thanksgiving.”
The stakes are pretty high in this competition, including bragging rights to last throughout the semester.
“My plan is to shame Liberal Arts,” said Pezold. “I went to the University of New Orleans, which was in the Louisiana State University system at that time. I heard Hartlaub offered to wear an LSU jersey if he loses and that’s just fine by me. I am looking forward to that. I’ll even buy him the T-shirt.”
Hartlaub was quick to deny Pezold’s claims and fired off some quips of his own.
“I did not agree to wear an LSU jersey if I lose,” said Hartlaub. “However, if Dean Pezold were to ask me do that, I am confident enough to do so – that’s if I lose. I think Dr. Pezold is going to underestimate me and that’s going to be my secret weapon.”
Amanda Hall, Director of Marketing and Guest Experience of Islander Dining, has high expectations for the Iron Chef Dean’s Challenge.
“I expect both deans to bring their ‘A’ game, to really make it a fun event for faculty, staff, students and the public,” said Hall, a recent Islander alumna. “The judges we have selected will be fair and impartial.”
Judges include Dr. Kelly Quintanilla, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs; Reginald Wade, Director of University Services; and Ian Woodward, Executive Chef in the Islander Dining Hall.
The dish to be prepared at the competition is pasta. While the deans individually revealed the existence of a secret ingredient, they have no plans of spilling their carefully guarded secret recipes until the competition.
The Iron Chef Dean’s Challenge is included with the all-you-care-to-eat dinner, which is $10 or one meal swipe. Staff, faculty and students are welcome. The Islander Dining Hall is also open to the public.