Barrington High School culinary students create savory bibimbap with zip in a 'Chopped'-style competition
What would you make if you were tasked with incorporating applesauce, chicken and rice in the same recipe? This was the challenge facing four classrooms of Barrington High School advanced culinary arts students during the entree portion of their annual BHS Chopped Competition. I was lucky enough to be asked to be a judge. Today I am sharing the recipe voted by fellow students as the overall favorite -- the 7th Hour Blue Team's version of the famous Korean bibimbap.
Under the watchful eye of the instructor and classically trained Chef Lauren Delehoy, more than 100 students participated in the challenge. Still, instead of opening one basket and having 30 minutes to create a dish, as contestants have on the "Chopped" television program, they had three sets of mystery ingredients. Students also had courses to prepare and roughly two weeks to develop their recipes, make detailed grocery and responsibility lists, sketch plates and prep ingredients.
In true "Chopped" fashion, the team did not test their recipe but felt they were well-prepared because they had already had units on both chicken and eggs and thought they could handle all the chopping with their practiced knife skills.
For bibimbap, warm rice is topped with a mosaic of different colored vegetables, including seasoned carrots, zucchini, bean sprouts, spinach and mushrooms nestled next to the marinated sliced chicken and all topped with a sunny-side up egg. Some zip comes from the slightly spicy sauce drizzled over the top and the sprinkling of sesame seeds. There is a lot of chopping involved in this dish, but it can be done ahead of time, making cooking and assembly easier. (There is also no shame in using items from the convenience area of your produce department.)
One of the first things you should do when eating bibimbap is break the egg yolk and stir everything together. The yolk helps to make a sauce for the entire bowl -- yum!
Plating and appearance were also crucial criteria for judging the student recipes, so the fact the Blue Team's dish looked as good as it tasted didn't hurt either.
This was the second of two semesters of cooking for two seniors, one junior, one sophomore and one freshman, otherwise known as the 7th Hour Blue Team. They all had different reasons for taking the class, ranging from needing something other than AP classes to wanting to try something a little different from the typical academic course. They agreed that they all liked to eat and believed in eating well; they just needed to learn how to cook well.
Some students went as far as to say culinary arts should be a required class because it is a creative outlet in an otherwise busy world that provides students with life skills they need for their future. When asked if the Blue Team chefs had any advice for home cooks, they quickly said not to skim a recipe but to read it thoroughly before starting to cook, noting there are often recipes within recipes that can easily be overlooked, creating problems and frustration while cooking.
No one was chopped or voted off the island during this competition, and the only thing that left me feeling unfulfilled was the fact I couldn't enroll in the class myself. Thanks to Chef Lauren and the BHS Culinary Arts students for welcoming me and feeding me so well!
• Penny Kazmier, a wife and mother of four from South Barrington, won the 2011 Daily Herald Cook of the Week Challenge. Contact Penny at DhCulinaryAdventures@gmail.com.