Five students from India took home the first place medal during this year’s 12th annual International Cook-Off by creating a classic entree and drink from their country on Nov. 21. 

Six teams from India, Indonesia, Colombia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam collaborated with the Office of Global Education and Kent State Dining Services to cater traditional dishes for over 350 people. 

Angelia Zielke, the coordinator of events for the Office of Global Education, helped organize the event to promote intercultural diversity on campus. 

“This is a really great way for domestic students to learn about some of the unique and special elements of international culture,” Zielke said. “Food is one thing that touches every culture and can really bring us together.”

Each group started preparing their dishes three days before the event and spent nearly seven hours a day cooking up until the day of the Cook-Off. Their goal was not only to feed people food they would love, but to also honor their country.

Noor Agustina, a student working toward her Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction, was a part of the second-place team, Indonesia. 

“We wanted to give people excellent food and a lot of culture, but we also really wanted to make our country proud,” Agustina said. “Last year we didn’t win, but this time all of our hard work paid off.”

Indonesia served rendang padang and es buah. Colombia served ajiaco. China served sweet and sour pork with passion fruit iced tea. Saudi Arabia served kabsa. The winning team, India, served butter chicken and green peas pulao.

Ayne Charlton, a freshman chemistry major, attended the Cook-Off for the first time after the flyers caught her eye moments before the event started. 

“It’s really nice to have a campus that’s so open to different cultures and kudos to those people cooking who decided to be the cultural influence from their country,” Charlton said.  

When the voting polls closed, each group waited along the stage to see if a photo of their country would appear as one of the top three picks. China was announced as the third place winner and Indonesia came in second place. After a long pause, cheers filled the room when India was announced the winner. 

Tears filled the eyes of the first place winners: Monica Ghosh, Nikita Kirkise, Manasi Agrawal,  Tes Rajesh Nakashe and Nega Bhavnani as the group hugged and high-fived one another.

“This is actually a very emotional experience for me, honestly,” Ghosh said. “We love and miss our country every moment, so on an emotional platform, this just means so much to us.”

India has taken home the title of first place for two years now and is still motivated to win next year. 

“There are no words to describe this feeling,” Agrawal said. “I wish there were, but you cannot describe this sort of happiness in words.”

Contact Sydney Ford at sford24@kent.edu.

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