Top Chef — GALA Edition

“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.” – Julia Child

Do you ever watch the Food Network and say, “I want to try that!”? Do you consider yourself a top-notch cook? For the first time in my life, I was able to answer both of those questions this past Friday. As part of my education for the Goizueta Advanced Leadership Academy (GALA), my team was given the opportunity to plan, purchase, prepare, and present a three-course meal to a panel of chefs, faculty, and staff.

Step 1: Plan

Being the business school students that we are, my team of four decided to conduct a “dry run” of the competition and held a team dinner several weeks ago to help determine what food we would prepare. While we tested each other’s dishes out, we formed a Mediterranean-themed menu that is reflective of our future trip to the British Virgin Islands. Planning is also essential to how we will prepare for our challenges while sailing. Every day we will have to set a plan, execute, then assess our performance against our initial plan. Starting to plan as a group now will make it that much easier when we are in time-constrained or stressful situation. I don’t get to break out a full dining set that often, but the team dinner called for a slightly more classy setting than my normal meal on the couch…

Trying to keep it classy.

Trying to keep it classy.

Step2: Purchase

When we arrived at Cook’s Warehouse, we were given a packet with all of the recipes the teams were preparing that day. In addition to those recipes, each team participating in the GALA cooking competition was given a “wildcard” item to prepare that was determined by our host chef. With only 45 minutes, we raced to the closest Publix to acquire our ingredient list.

 

 

Short and sweet list.

Short and sweet list.

Step 3: Prepare

After gathering our ingredients, we divided up responsibilities amongst the team. Since we each knew our own recipes best, we decided to prepare the dishes for the recipes we individually created. Thankfully, our team was in an isolated kitchen that allowed us to spread out, work in a less chaotic environment, and communicate effectively. While several other teams came into our kitchen towards the end of the competition, having our own space to collaborate was fantastic.

 

Having fun in the kitchen.

Having fun in the kitchen.

Step 4: Present

Despite the advantage in space, however, our presentation of the food did not win us any awards. While we were very content with the taste of our dish, we did not place as high as we would have liked that day. As we discussed the results and how we can perform better as a team, our different approaches to problem-solving highlighted potential areas of improvement. I can’t wait to take the lessons we learned and apply it to our future sailing activities!

Still looks yummy.

Still looks yummy.

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