I spent last Saturday getting a true taste of Wharton’s international community at MasterChef, Wharton’s annual international culinary showcase featuring 23 teams from 20+ countries. My two hours at MasterChef were a stretch experience for my palate and my stomach.
At the urging of Oded Porath ’15 (and fearless Israeli trek leader), I began my MasterChef tour at the Israeli Deli table, where we devoured a light Israeli mezze plate comprised of smooth and creamy hummus, pickled vegetables and couscous prepared by Sarit Henig ’15, Hadar Yehudai ‘14 & Masha Nikolski ’14. Not only was the plate delicious, but the attention to detail in presentation was impeccable; on my plate, a little Israeli flag hung proudly from a toothpick inserted into a briny pickle while the girls all sported I <3 Israel aprons. What’s not to love.
From Israel, it only seemly logical to stay in the Middle East and make a visit to Turkish Delight’s table (Ekin Aridag ‘15, Meric Aban ‘15 & Elif Car ’15), where I feasted on manti, small dumplings filled pounded minced meat with a topping of light yogurt, a recipe that emerged in the 15th century Ottoman Empire (thanks Wikipedia).
Given the tenuous relationship between Israel and Turkey in my stomach, I searched for a peaceful nation to facilitate reconciliation and found good old Canada (Team C-eh-N-eh-D-eh composed of Monica Sim ’14, Claire Fauquier ’15 and Terry Tang ‘15). There, I indulged in a few Beaver Tails, hand-stretched puff pastries in the shape of a beaver tail lightly dressed with maple syrup. This warm, sugary fried dough made my stomach content and quieted tensions between Israel and Turkey.
However, my time in Canada reminded me that winter was coming. Luckily for me, next to the Canada table, Christian Dungl ‘15, Johannes Quodt ‘15, Lena Koolmann ’15 & Lorenz Kazda ’15 were dressed in lederhosen and other traditional Austrian / German garb asking me to try their Goulash, a heart-warming and delicious German beef stew with noodles and vegetables, seasoned with heavy spices. Given their festive outfits and delicious food, part of me felt like the back corner of 2401 had turned into a Christmas market in Munich.
After hanging with the Gulaschtruppe, I spotted Mitch Ichikawa ‘15, one of the great virtuousos of Wharton (a Toyota engineer, an impeccable dancer, math whiz and chef extraordinaire) and a learning teammate. I knew I had to try whatever Mitch was cooking up at his Asian Fusion table and I was right. Mitch offered me a Takoyaki, a ball-shaped Japanese snack comprised of flour dough, mozzarella cheese and and pieces of Octopus. These octopus balls had a really interesting texture and almost melted in my mouth. I’m looking forward to eating more the Japan Trek if I manage to get a spot.
By 7 p.m., the many delegates from of the United Nations mingling in my stomach came to the consensus that a recess was necessary and I went home.
Postscript: After I left, Kembrel and a pair of professional chefs, Daniel Liberatoscioli (President of The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College) and Walter Grund (Chef Instructor at The Art Institute of Philadelphia) judged the teams’ dishes and a popular vote also ensued. Results below:
Judges Choice Winners
1st: Arriba Peru! (Oscar Lauz ’14, Paloma Bernales ’14, Alonso Andujar ’14)
2nd: Taste of the Islands (Makeda Murray ’14, Nohemie Sanon ’15, Alaric Craig ’14)
3rd: Amazing Asia (Chutima Orsirivikorn ‘15, Napol Chaisilwattana ‘15, Helen Deng ‘14)
Popular Vote Winners
1st: Amazing Asia (Chutima Orsirivikorn ‘15, Napol Chaisilwattana ‘15, Helen Deng ‘14)
2nd: Arriba Peru! (Oscar Lauz ’14, Paloma Bernales ’14, Alonso Andujar ’14)