Troy Dining Services’ first chili cook-off is hoped to be dubbed a new Trojan tradition as students competed at Trojan Dining on Tuesday, March 1.
With an effort to bridge the gap between offering dining services and creating relationships with students, Troy Dining Services said it wants to provide events to gain more student involvement.
The idea for a chili cook-off stemmed from a brainstorming session between the Troy Dining Services marketing team and the chefs, according to Sheetal Nangia, the marketing director for Troy Dining Services.
“Though it was a challenge to get students to participate, we are hoping more students will get involved after seeing the turnout and watching their friends take part,” she said.
Students were encouraged to sign up for the competition, and all of the ingredients were provided by dining services. Teams of two or more were allowed to bring mystery ingredients and compete using the other ingredients provided by dining services.
The cook-off was a live event and took place in the center of Trojan Dining from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.
“I think since they had it in the cafe in the middle of the day, it will get a lot more students aware of what’s going on, and maybe it’ll get others more involved in stuff like this,” said Steven Justice, a sophomore exercise science major from Eufaula, who competed in the cook-off with his friend Jered Harper, a senior economics major from Opelika.
Jacob Carter, an undeclared freshman from Decatur, had lunch at Trojan Dining during the time of the cook-off, and he did not know it was going on until he arrived.
“I think it’s pretty cool that people can go up and taste them (the chili) and see what’s going on,” Carter said. “I have a couple friends up there, so I went up there and taste-tested.”
Six teams competed in the cook-off with hopes of earning bragging rights and winning trophies. Each of the competitors received a gift card to eating locations on campus.
Nangia said her main goal was to come up with another event that sparked students’ interest and would become a Trojan tradition. Events like Cram Jam, a night at the end of each semester where students can go to Trojan Dining for breakfast foods late at night and listen to live music, are considered Trojan traditions, and they increase student participation, which is the hope for the cook-off, according to Nangia.
“I am very pleased with the turnout for our first annual chili cook-off,” she said. “We would like to make this an annual event that students look forward to every year.”
Harper said he could see Troy Dining Services hosting more cook-offs in the future that are not just limited to the chili cook-off.
“A chili cook-off is really simple, so I can see why they started with that, but I think another type of cook-off would be cool,” he said. “Something like a casserole cook-off or something would be fun.”
Olivia Melton a junior math and economics major from Orange Beach, was one of the judges for the cook-off. She said it was exciting to see different teams come together to participate in the events Troy Dining Services is offering for students.
“I think it’s a great way to get more students involved,” Melton said. “I think over the years they (Troy Dining Services) really have had more events for students. I think this is just one of the many events that will start to become an annual event, and it’s a great way for them to support the student body.”
Melton is also the Student Government Association director of representation and the SGA president-elect.
Team Kamikaze won first place (Nguyen Nguyen, Xixi Xiao, Tu Thi Minh To and Shoji Torikara), FarmHouse won second place (Aaron Walker) and Netflix and Chili won third place (Leah Andrews, Jenna Jayjohn and Mackenzie Kaylor).