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Yale SOM’s Top Chef Competition Delights Tastebuds

Yale SOM's Top Chef brings together the cream of SOM’s culinary talent for a night of fun and food to decide which team will be crowned Top Chef.

The third annual Yale School of Management Top Chef competition was held in Evans Hall on Saturday, April 9. The event, first conceived by Christina Mainero ’15 over three years ago, brings together eight, four-person MBA teams carefully selected for their culinary skills. The students are given a budget and a list of ingredients to produce enough food for 200 hungry MBAs, family, and friends.

Team Ratatouille unveils its menu

This year’s event was the culmination of months of planning by Top Chef Committee Members Meenu Iyer ’16, Rishabh Jain ’16, Shraddha Sawardekar ’16, and Cian O’Dowd MAM ’16. Throughout the process the committee was supported by Top Chef founder Mainero. Commenting on the event, Sawardekar said, “I think the Yale Endowment Fund should invest in a restaurant and have different members of the SOM community cook there on different nights of the week. The MBA in me knows that a restaurant is a risky endeavor, but as someone who has now organized Top Chef two years in a row, I am convinced that the talent we have at SOM is exceptional. People are passionate about food and love experimenting, and Top Chef has given me another reason to love our community.”

From left to right, winning team members Shane Hwang ’16, Sabrina Ling ’16, Dan Levis ’16, Carrie Edmundson ’16, and Susannah Harris ’16 

Mainero said, “For me, Top Chef is an exercise in team building, creative expression, and precision with individuals having to operate as teams, efficiently and effectively within constraints. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the eight teams of SOM students who went all in to create extraordinary dishes integrating four secret ingredients for 200 people in a mere 11 hours. Without their determination, this event simply would not be possible. Each year, I continue to be amazed and impressed by the myriad of different culinary experiences that these teams create after learning which four secret ingredients they need to integrate into their dishes.”

This year’s guests enjoyed a wide variety of culinary delights from Brazilian street food all the way to French haute cuisine. After sampling food from all corners of the world students used the oVote mobile app created by Nick Andris ‘16 to vote for their culinary champions. Yale SOM’Head Chef Dave Kuzma, Assistant Dean Sherilyn Scully and her husband, Jon Rubin ’86, had the honor of announcing the winners of the public vote and selected the winners of the prized Innovation Award. This year’s winning team members were Sabrina Ling ’16, Carrie Edmundson ’16, Dan Levis ’16, Shane Hwang ’16, and Susannah Harris ’16, who delighted judges with their creative offerings and a delectable avocado ice cream.

Top Chef organizer Rishabh Jain said, “Good food is the one unifying factor across the world. It’s a great privilege to organize one of the most popular events at SOM. And the best reward is when you see people lying on the couches after the event because they had too much good food!"

“I think this event perfectly captures what studying in Yale SOM is all about. At Yale SOM we strive to inject dedication, hard work, and ingenuity into everything we do. This is clearly reflected in the remarkable dishes produced by our students tonight. Top Chef is also a fantastic opportunity to celebrate SOM’s vibrant multicultural community and highlight the remarkable talents our students and their partners possess,” said committee member Cian O’Dowd.

Mainero added, “I cannot express how proud I am to see SOM Top Chef continue to soar—the zest of SOM students continues to excel my wildest expectations. A big thank you is due to Assistant Dean Scully and her husband, Jon Rubin, who have been avid supporters of Top Chef since day one. For that, I am eternally grateful. I think it speaks volumes about SOM that they spend a Saturday night each year with all of us, sharing in the culinary creations of our chef teams. Since Charley's Place opened in September 2014, Chef Dave Kuzma, too, has been incredibly supportive and engaged. This year, a big thank you is due to Shraddha, Rishabh, Meenu ,and Cian for making sure this tradition lives on. I can't wait to see what next year brings.“