Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Frat Boy: Saga Dining Hall - Part 4

My brother was into Iron Chef way before it ever became a show in America. He collected videotapes that came over from Japan and really enjoyed the over-the-top pro-wrestling style presentation with the interesting and dynamic cooking.

When we’d get together we would watch these tapes together and it was a lot of fun so I figured why not do this at Saga?

Dillo Day, otherwise known at Mayfest is a spring celebration when people on campus collectively decided to chill out. The university sets-up a stage, get some mid-level music acts to put on some music and there’s series of events for students. The NUMB-Mu-Alpha-Iota group didn’t really get into the formal organized events too much, but we did get with the program and get our party on.

My senior year we decided to put on a competition between the different classes, freshmen, sophomore, juniors and seniors. A group of seniors including myself and some girls from SAI set up a series of events and points that could be earned towards a grand total. This was of course rigged so that the seniors would win and the underclassmen knew this but they didn’t seem to mind.

One event was a game of softball, there was a trivia game and there was the main event: SAGA IRON CHEF!

People worked in teams of two, one girl and one guy. They were able to use two ingredients they brought in from outside the cafeteria. The teams had to use whatever ingredient we chose, along with whatever food there was at Saga to put together a three-course meal.

We walked into Saga that day in mass,almost forty of us. Mary, a senior from SAI and I scurried around trying to figure out what the secret ingredient was as people nervously stood around.

It was getting weird that people were just milling around, so we told everyone to get food like they normally would and settle down. Once everyone got seated, Mary and I made an announcement.

We welcomed everyone to Saga Iron Chef, went over the rules and announced the secret ingredients: Baby Corn and Bananas.

Immediately there was chaos. The four teams ran around the cafeteria at full speed shoving piles of food on their trays frantically trying to put something together. Unable to simply sit and watch, people in our group walked around and tried to figure out what people were doing.

Before I knew it, no one was sitting at the table and everyone was up and about, cheering people on and getting a little bit too into this event.

Mary and I stood in the middle of the maelstrom when we started hearing whispers that the cafeteria staff was unhappy with us.

Here’s the thing. There were different managers in the Plex all of the time but the staff who worked there was pretty consistent and we loved them. They were caring, thoughtful and really nice. Many of them learned our names and were a big part of the reason we liked coming to the Plex to eat.

These people were becoming distressed. I remember looking over at Mary and not knowing what to do. As I hesitated, she took the lead and went over and talked to one of the staff people that she knew.

Feeling that the end was near, we got everyone to sit down and chill out and we commenced judging.

There was the good: chocolate Courtney had brought in, melted in the microwave poured over a banana. The confusing: slices of baby corn placed on a pizza. And the simply confusing: a plastic cup filled with some kind of pop with bits of floating corn.

About halfway through the tasting, Mary came over to me and told me that we had to leave. The manager was upset about how much food we were wasting and the mess that we had made in the cafeteria.

We huddled quickly and told our group that we had to leave but that we needed to clean this place up and not leave this mess for the staff that served us every day.

In the same whirlwind that people were engaged in during the competition, people swept through the room, cleaned up our mess, cleared our table and got out of that place fast.

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