A Sodexo chef prepares one of the final entries in Fordham’s “So You Think You Can Cook?” competition. Photo by Ken Levinson

Move aside, Iron Chef. The Fordham University community showed on Nov. 7 that it knows a thing or two about cooking.

Students, staff and family gathered at The Marketplace that night to sample the finalists of the “So You Think You Can Cook” culinary competition. The tasting was a part of the University’s Family Weekend festivities.

The competition, sponsored by Hospitality Services, invited the Fordham community to submit recipes for consideration as Fordham’s signature dish. The winning dish will be selected by the votes of the tasting public and will be added to the Hospitality Services menu rotation at the Rose Hill and Lincoln Center campuses.

This year’s competition featured entree options, following last year’s successful contest for Fordham’s signature dessert. The Maroon Velvet Cake recipe submitted by Rick Manista, then a senior at Fordham College at Lincoln Center, won the prize and has been a featured item in the University cafeterias and at events throughout the year.

This year’s seven finalists were selected from more than 30 recipes submitted to the contest based on their appeal to students and how well the recipe’s integrity would be preserved in mass-production.

Brian Poteat, general manager of Hospitality Services, said the competition serves as a way for his office to reach out to the Fordham community.

“We try to find ways to pull the community into what we do,” Poteat said. “The culinary competition is a fun way to find out what food our customers enjoy the most.”

Brian Poteat, general manager of Hospitality Services, says a final tasting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 1 to 2 p.m. at The Marketplace. Photo by Ken Levinson

Poteat said the 60-member Student Culinary Council (SCC) also serve as “eyes and ears” to help Food Services constantly improve its offerings. The council has subcommittees focused on residential dining, retail, nutrition, sustainability and publicity.

Christine D’Urso, a junior at Fordham College at Rose Hill and co-president of the council, said SCC gives students a proactive way to make their voices heard.

“It’s not just kids complaining,” D’Urso said. “We are bringing our concerns directly to the managers and participating in the process to make things better.”

Poteat said sustainability and nutrition have been areas of great importance to students this year. Hospitality Services has responded by improving its vegetarian entree options, enhancing the vegan station, and adding gluten-free items to the menu. They also purchase from local suppliers wherever possible.

SCC member Johnny Keaney, a junior in the College of Business Administration, and his roommate, Jake Braithwaite, also a junior in CBA, were the proud authors of one of the finalist recipes, Buffalo Chicken Pasta. The students agreed that dishes featuring buffalo sauce rank high among Fordham students’ favorite foods.

When asked why people should vote for his Buffalo Chicken Pasta, Keaney offered, “It’s the hottest dish at the hottest college in America.”

Antonia Pinckney, a registered dietitian and mother of CBA sophomore Sean Pinckney, created her entry, Fettuccini with Shrimp and Escarole, to demonstrate the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. Sean said he would vote for his mother’s recipe.

“Of course she’s a great cook,” Pinckney said. “She’s Italian.”

Poteat said he hopes the contest will become a Fordham tradition. He is exploring the possibility of publishing a Fordham cookbook with the recipes that have been submitted over the years.

The Fordham community will have one more chance to sample the contest’s offerings and vote for their favorite. A final tasting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 18, from 1 to 2 p.m. at The Marketplace. The winner will be announced shortly afterward.

Two Fordham students sample an entry at The Marketplace. Photo by Ken Levinson

The seven finalists are:

• Buffalo Chicken Pasta
Johnny Keaney and Jake Braithwaite, CBA juniors

• Butternut Squash Risotto
K. Mannah Kallon, Fordham parent

• Cheese Tortellini with Apples and Walnuts
Amy Harper, administrator, area coordinator for Integrated Learning Communities

• Chicken and Artichokes
Michelle Graham, Fordham parent

• Chicken Cacciatore with a Flare
Ann Gannon, administrator

• Deebe’s Lamb
Deebe Modrzynski, Fordham parent

• Fettuccini with Shrimp and Escarole
Antonia Pinckney, Fordham parent