Freshmen Clinch Top Chef

Top Chef
Meredith H. Keffer

Students compete in the finals of Harvard's "Top Chef" competition yesterday in Annenberg. Contestants could only use food available in the dining hall.

Carolyn S. M. Stein ’13 and Anna C. Mapes ’13 clinched victory at the second annual Harvard Top Chef competition yesterday at Annenberg.

The freshman duo, competing as “Team Annenberg,” edged out the upperclassman representatives from each House. They won kitchen utensils, monogrammed Harvard University Dining Services aprons with the winners’ initials, and a $100 gift card to local French bistro Chez Henri.

Though Stein and Mapes took the top accolades with their corn fritter and salmon combination, some upperclassmen also brought their talents to the table.

The Currier team, which came in second place, concocted a new twist on the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich by adding yogurt dip and bananas.

Team Pforzheimer, which was represented solely by Chelsea S. Link ’12, claimed third place with a Greek chicken sandwich entree and apple crisp.

All contestants had 30 minutes to make two dishes—an entree and a dessert—using only ingredients found in the Annenberg servery.

Their concoctions were then judged by food blogger and Harvard Culinary Society president Lingbo Li ’11, who is also a Crimson staff writer, Chez Henri owner and chef Paul O’Connell, and HUDS director for culinary operations Martin T. Breslin.

All the teams had competed at the House level to qualify for the College-wide competition, but the experience level ranged from novice to experienced.

Adams House residents Steve Teng ’10 and Jade D. Guedes first met at the Adams Culinary Club and both were experienced cooks. They entered the competition with “no plan whatsoever,” according to Teng.

“We’re definitely not expecting to win,” Teng said before the competition started. “It would be nice though.”

Other competitors identified themselves as casual cooks.

Erin E. Walczewski and Luke Walczewski, who are married tutors in Kirkland House, said they had not known about the Harvard-wide Top Chef contest when they entered the Kirkland competition.

“When we competed at the Kirkland level, we thought we were competing for a candy bar,” Erin Walczewski said.

She and her husband entered the competition as “Team Zeus.”

Lowell House residents Heidi H. Liu ’11 and Rebecca L. Gruskin ’11 decided to cook comfort food because they hail from Minnesota and “Minnesota is a nice place with friendly people,” Gruskin said.

Their concoctions included a poached apple and brown sugar-imbued summer salad.

“I tend to like things that aren’t chicken, chicken, chicken cooked three different ways,” Gruskin said.

—Staff writer Derrick Asiedu can be reached at