An ASU club is bringing the intensity and fun of television cooking competitions to the Downtown Phoenix campus.
According to club president and nutrition junior Samantha Chen, Devil’s Kitchen was started by members of the Cultural Association of Performing Arts, or CAPA, a now-defunct Chinese cultural association. The original impetus to the club was keeping the friend’s she had made together.
“I was thinking of something that I want to do with those friends because we’re all in different majors, and if we don’t try hard we will never meet again at the school,” Chen said. “So I was like, well, we have the same passion toward food, so why don't we start off the club with food?”
The club’s last competition, spaghetti and meatballs, was based on Cutthroat Kitchen, complete with the sabotages made popular by the show. Chen said that at a point in the competition, one group had their ground meat replaced with a whole cut. The group then had to grind the meat themselves.
According to Chen, the club focused on creating a competitive atmosphere instead of class-like atmosphere because of her enjoyment of the show MasterChef.
“It’s something that I really love to watch,” said Chen.
Chen was not exactly interested in teaching a class.
“I’d have to teach them how to cook, and I’m not the best chef,” said Chen.
The theme of the event is kept a secret before the competition begins. Club historian and engineering junior Justin Na said that competitors do not know the theme until right before the competition begins.
“We’ll get all the ingredients a day or two beforehand,” Na said. “On the event day, we’ll come up and we’ll unfold the theme.”
Na said that part of what he likes about the club and cooking in general is preparing food for others.
“I like seeing people smile when they eat my cooking,” said Na.
One of the positives of the club is the variations of the same dish that are prepared by the competitors, according to Na. For example, last month’s spaghetti and meatball competition saw some groups forego tomato sauce, generally regarded as a staple of the dish.
“There was one or two groups that just didn’t incorporate the tomatoes,” said Na. “That actually ended up winning.”
The club saw about seven teams compete at their event last month. One of those competitors, engineering junior Shane Mitchell, said that preparing a dish without a recipe gave him experience in cooking that he had not received before.
“My team ended up having a really good time, so we thought we’d come back,” said Mitchell.
Mitchell decided to start cooking for a reason all too familiar to some college students.
“I came to college and got an apartment and the dining hall was too far away,” Mitchell said. “You have to learn a new skill.”
Devil’s Kitchen’s next competition is on October 29 in the Downtown Phoenix campus’s cooking lab inside NHI South. When asked if they would reveal the next competition’s theme, both Na and Chen gave a strong no, though the duo hinted that the theme will probably be another classic food with room for variation. Potential competitors should sign up as soon as possible on the club’s google form.
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