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Saturday, October 25, 2014 | Last updated: 4:11am

Iron Chef competition brings heat to UA Mall



Things will be heating up on the UA Mall as students compete in the first-ever Iron Chef competition at the UA.

The Student Health Advocacy Committee and the Well University Partnership (Well U) will be hosting the UA Food Day Fair on Wednesday. Food Day celebrates the nationwide movement for healthy, affordable and sustainable food.

The event will provide free demonstrations, food, games, giveaways and many interactive exhibits. It aims to educate students about sustainable foods and help them become familiar with organizations such as Students for Sustainability and the Student Health Advocacy Committee.

The event will promote healthy eating habits and educate students on where their food comes from and the ingredients in it, said Meredith Ridinger, a nutritional sciences senior and co-coordinator for Cooking on Campus, a series of classes that teaches students to cook healthy meals. Ridinger said she has been planning Food Day since the summer and helped organize the Iron Chef competition, with the final round of the competition taking place from noon to 1 p.m. during the event.

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File Photo / The Daily Wildcat Executive Chef Ryan Clark from Lodge on the Desert demonstrates to UA students how to make Asian Noodle Salad at UA Food Day. Clark is a two time Iron Chef Tucson winner.

“It’s also about teaching students how to be hands-on and how to prepare their food,” Ridinger said.

Attendees will have the chance to ask local farmers markets where they can buy food that isn’t from a grocery store. The Arizona Students Unions will also be promoting healthier options, Ridinger added.

“A lot of people don’t know how sustainable the Union is so were trying to spread the word about this,” Ridinger said.

In order to compete in Iron Chef, students had to send in videos displaying their cooking skills by making a healthy meal. The students also had to explain why they should be chosen, and could enter as a team with up to six people.

The top five contestants will compete today at 5 p.m. at Outdoor Adventures, a facility at the Student Recreation Center. The contestants will have to prepare two dishes in 30 minutes and use a secret ingredient. The Cooking on Campus chefs will then pick the top two contestants to compete in the final round.

Three judges will participate in the Iron Chef competition: Lute Olson, former UA men’s basketball coach, a guest student-athlete and Jon Levengood, dining services retail manager at Arizona Student Unions. The winner of the competition will receive a gift basket with cooking utensils.

Stephanie Kha, a biochemistry junior and current director of the Student Health Advocacy Committee, said Food Day is mainly funded by the Well U committee and is one of the largest health and nutrition-oriented fairs on campus.

“This year is the first year we will be hosting the Iron Chef competition so we’re really excited,” Kha said.

Kjersti Johnson, a nutritional sciences senior, co-coordinator for Cooking on Campus and one of the executive organizers for the Iron Chef competition, said they hope to attract more students to the event this year.

“Food day in the past has been more of a community event,” Johnson said. “We wanted to get as many students to come out and get excited about Food Day because there’s going to be great vendors, free food and lots of cool programs students might not know about.”

If you go:

Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

On the UA Mall

- Follow Chandler Wicke @ChandlerWicke


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