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Iron Chef competition brings backcountry cooking to campus

The Backcountry Iron Chef event, a cooking competition created and run by the Outdoor Program, encouraged students to create “the best meal using only backcountry cooking equipment and ingredients,” according to Westminster University’s Campus Events webpage.  

The event took place outside in Richer Commons Thursday from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. 

Four teams each competed for the title of Iron Chef, their goal to impress bystanders with their dishes who will act as judges, according to Paris Pratt, a senior outdoor education and leadership major and marketing and event coordinator for the Outdoor Program.

“We have these amazing moments on trips while we are cooking,” Pratt said. “There is so much team bonding that happens around a campfire and your goal is to create a meal to share with each other.”

Pratt said this event had been on the program’s radar for a while and was the brainchild of AJ Verkouw, director of the Outdoor Program.

“While the [Outdoor Program] had previously conducted similar competitions internally, this marks the first time we opened the doors to the entire campus community,” Pratt said.

Backcountry Iron Chef participants run toward a table of ingredients to use in their respective dishes during the start of the competition in Richer Commons on Sept. 28. Four teams each competed for the title of Iron Chef, their goal to impress bystanders with their dishes who will act as judges, according to Paris Pratt, a senior outdoor education and leadership major and marketing and event coordinator for the Outdoor Program. Photo courtesy of Philip Farnsworth. Image description: 10 people are captured in motion, running toward a table filled with various food ingredients, in Richer Commons on a sunny day. Shaw Student Center is pictured in the background.

The decision to expand the event’s reach was driven by a desire to foster connections and introduce newcomers to the program’s welcoming community, according to Pratt.

Paxton Bennion, a first-year …, said he attended the event as a bystander.

“I give the event high points for creativity,” Bennion said. “Part of the reason I did not participate in the event is because I am a god-awful cook; I couldn’t imagine cooking with only outdoor cooking equipment.”

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Philip Farnsworth is a passionate communication major with a keen interest in sports and storytelling through creative projects. With a natural curiosity for human interaction and the art of effective communication, Philip tries to keep busy with side projects or spending time outside.

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