Barry Greenberg, Iowa Memorial Union executive chef and director of IMU Food Services at the University of Iowa, has won the Culinary Challenge of the National Association of College and University Food Services:
Each chef had 75 minutes to prepare her or his entrée using this year's featured ingredient: extra firm tofu.Note: Every dish Mr. Greenberg prepared would appear to be vegan or vegetarian.
When the dust settled, Greenberg emerged the victor with his entrée, Asian Bento Box, composed of tofu sushi, seaweed and tofu salad, edamame shumai, smoked shiitake spring rolls, mango and ginger tofu smoothie, and miso soup.
While Greenberg, who has spent 15 years with the IMU Food Services, felt that some chefs may have chosen not to compete because of their unfamiliarity with tofu, he had no difficulty in making the food his own.
"When you work with a product like that, it's a blank canvas; it will take on the flavor and texture of what the chef wants to do," Greenberg said.
Morgan Lucero, the meeting and logistics coordinator at the food-service association, said the competition's venue and featured ingredient change each year.
"We have a culinary-challenge committee that is made up of representatives from each region, as well as a committee head," she said. "The committee mulls out the suggestions of the chairperson and eventually decides on a protein."
The featured ingredient usually follows the theme and locale of the contest. For Seattle this year, the theme was fresh and organic, so tofu was a natural choice, Lucero said.
"Next year's theme is striped sea bass and will be in Washington, D.C.," she said.
UI chef nobody's tofu fool (Daily Iowan)