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TCC’s Iron Chef competition promotes healthy eating in a hurry

Chefs-in-training prepared delicious, nutritious dishes in 30 minutes in the Tidewater Community College Norfolk Student Center. They worked quickly — chopping, stirring, sautéing and adding spices to dishes such as charred romaine with orange and ginger dressing and sautéed fish; Middle Eastern-infused minestrone soup; and fish stew with noodles.

TCC ChefsThe dishes featured different flavor profiles, but all included the “secret” ingredient of cod. “Working well under pressure is part of the training,” said participant Joseph Duquette, who enjoys cooking in front of an audience.

Sheimka Simmons added, “The crowd makes me nervous, but it’s still exciting to be part of this competition.”

Once the meals were ready, chefs Don Averso and Emi Ostrander, along with TCC’s Ivory Warren and Steve Cushing, rated each dish on presentation, creativity, flavor and texture. “The texture, the colors and the taste were very good,” Averso said. “And the best part is that these dishes are family-friendly and can easily be prepared in kitchens at home.”

Participating student chefs were Deborah Bivens, Brian Cuison, Joseph Duquette, Akeisha Gallman, Margaret Gary, Melita Harding, Angelique Hulon, Angelia O’Neal, Latahs Selby and Sheimka Simmons.

The winning entree was butter lettuce wraps with Caribbean flavors and a salsa prepared by Akeisha Gallman. Second place went to Margaret Gray for her couscous with cinnamon, fruit and nuts. Angelia O’Neal took third place for her Asian-American stir fry.

To sample yourself, try this winning recipe in your kitchen.

Couscous with Cinnamon, Fruit and Nuts

½ cup onion
½ cup carrots
¾ cup colorful dried fruit (apricots, cranberries, raisins, dates)
3 T brown sugar
1 T vegetable oil
1 cup couscous
2 cups chicken stock
½ cut nuts
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
Salt T
Fresh mint 1 tsp. chopped and more to garnish
Paprika to garnish


Chop and brown nuts the cuts.  Set aside.
Dice onion and carrots. Sauté in oil until tender.
Chop dried fruit. (Save a couple of tablespoons for garnish.) Add the rest to the sauté pan with the vegetables. Add nuts (save a couple of tablespoons for garnish). Add cinnamon, ginger, and brown sugar. Stir to cover all vegetables and fruit and nuts.
Stir in chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
Stir in the couscous. Add salt to taste and  chopped mint. Cover and remove from heat for 5 minutes until couscous tender and liquid absorbed.
Garnish with reserved fruit, nuts, mint and paprika.