IRHS 4th Annual ‘Iron Chef’ Competition


Zaria Swain

Foreground: Victoria Carter; background, Antonio Bell, both of the winning “Cake Squad” team.

Anderson, Publisher Emeritus

The fourth annual ‘Iron Chef’ competition here at the high school was full of a certain energy and camaraderie.  Four teams competed, two of which were ad hoc groups recruited that day for the event when some scheduled teams bailed out, including one only the day before the event.  So the frenetic spirit of the TV show was definitely there.

The required ingredient this year was bacon, and literally no one complained about that.  Even only a few minutes into the allotted time, the room was filled with the smells of rice, chicken, and peppers and onions being prepared.  It got so steamy and even slightly smokey with the bacon grease hanging in the air that one contestant from last year’s winning team, Sierra LaClair, remarked on the muggy atmosphere.

Competition organizer Mrs. Elcsisin agreed to open a window at the back of the room, despite the chill, still-not-spring-yet weather. A baseball practice less than 50 yards away through that open window could not be heard at all over the kitchen sounds. Yet the smell of bacon was still so strong a custodian stopped by–saying he was escaping traffic from the girls’ track team in the hallway.

Only slight panic and chaos occurred when senior Mark Silsby arrived late from a field trip, causing fellow senior HaileeJo VanKoughnett to switch teams about 15 minutes in.  Silsby was one of only four male contestants, the rest being female, including one team that was exclusively girls.  Silsby was one of the few to don an apron, while most students were just in their usual jeans and t-shirts.

The newly recruited teams were in fact truly improvising, working only with what Mrs. El had available. There were smiles, small jokes, plenty of friendly banter and even cooperation among teams as they were trying to find necessary tools, spices, and ingredients.

“Celebrity Judges” Mr. Decker (the principal), Mr. Dusharm, Mr. Cuppernell, and Miss Mackinnon were universally excited about the required ingredient.  Some IR alumni rounded out the judging panel.

Some small disagreements about seasoning broke out just before 3 pm as the fifteen minute warning was given.  Only a few minutes later, some teams were already plating their creations, including a Bacon-Fried-Rice dish and a Southwest Wrap.

The team that was eventually judged as the winners, “Cake Squad,” anchored by senior Antonio Bell, was in fact that Southwest Wrap.  The judging was a close affair since, as Mr. Dusharm remarked earlier, “How can you go wrong with BACON?”