Beyond Booth: Iron Chef

By Pushya Jataprolu '16

By Pushya Jataprolu '16

By Pushya Jataprolu '16

[ChiBus]: What is the idea behind your group’s version of Iron Chef and who’s idea was it?

[Jenny Rose]: It is loosely based on the show Iron Chef, something I did in Boston. Each person in the group would host a dinner every two weeks. But instead of a set ingredient, we’d have a random theme like a poem, a movie or a phrase. 

The host of one week would set the theme for the next dinner. Guests just brought drinks and everybody had fun!

[CB]: How did the group form out?

[JR]: I had been wanting to do this for a while, but never got around to it till the spring of last year. I knew three other people who were into cooking and each of the four of us invited one other person. It started with myself, Dana, Michelle and Heather. Andrew, Jana, René and René’s husband were next. And when my fiancé moved to Chicago, he joined as well. I didn’t know all these people well at the time. So, you can see how, we had the perfect setting to connect over our love for cooking. It’s a great way to connect with a small group of people over our love for food and cooking. I especially feel that I connect better in a smaller group setting.

[CB]: It seems obvious that food comes up as a topic of discussion during these dinners. What are the conversations like?

[Dana Robinson]: Just nerd out over food and go off on weird tangents like our favorite Trader Joe’s and Costco products [both laugh], Chicago restaurants, Chicago Culinary Fight Club – it is an underground fight club for food!

[CB]: Is that a real thing?

[DR]: You buy tickets and watch these culinary fights. It’s almost like the Chopped competition, witnessed in person. We’re actually thinking of changing the name of our group to it now.

Iron Chef members from left - Michelle Oh, Jenny Rose, Dan Cuzzocreo, Todd Lake, Heather Rubacky, Jana Zagorski, Andrew Kreitz, René Grafwallner and Dana Robinson

Iron Chef members from left - Michelle Oh, Jenny Rose, Dan Cuzzocreo, Todd Lake, Heather Rubacky, Jana Zagorski, Andrew Kreitz, René Grafwallner and Dana Robinson

[CB]: Iron Chef sounds confrontational as it is! Has anyone tried to challenge the next chef in line with the theme?

[DR]: The challenge is not so much with the theme itself but people have so many options on how and what to make, right from showcasing and sharing favorite dishes with friends, to experimenting on new recipes from cooking magazines because this is the kind of place you can unleash that weirdness. We don’t make it stressful.

[JR]: Yeah, it’s all about fun and drinks! We’ve tossed around the idea of a cook-off like a Dumpling Night where everybody would bring one kind.

[CB]: Speaking on themes again, what are some of the themes people have cooked on?

[DR]: There was the Alphabet theme, where I cooked dishes with names starting with each letter of the alphabet. I remember your Disney theme; you had a powerpoint!

[JR]: I did [chuckles]. Each course of the meal was a different movie. We also had a rainbow dinner; a Korean theme because we really wanted Michelle to cook Korean food.

We had a pie theme where René made a chicken pot pie and taught us how to make pie crust. Heather did one titled, “Things are not the way they seem”. And there was one with alcohol in food as the theme and another with a chocolate theme, a fusion food theme of Middle-East to Mid-West. We do have a bucket list of things we’d like to geek out our cooking on or have an Iron Chef field trip before graduating.

Well, that sounds like fun!

Pushya is a second-year looking to unravel what Boothies do beyond, you know, being Boothies.