N.C. Central and N.C. A&T universities have battled for years, building a heated rivalry between the two schools on the fields and on the courts.
Thursday they brought it to the kitchen.
NCCU and Sodexo Quality of Life hosted the “Battle of the Chefs,” the “Bull versus Boro edition” to kick off Saturday’s football game between the NCCU Eagles and N.C. A&T Aggies. The culinary event showcased the cooking skills of each school’s executive chefs and their chancellors. NCCU chancellor Debra Saunders-White teamed up with school executive chef Derrick McCorkle, while A&T’s chancellor, Harold Martin, teamed up with his school’s executive chef, Katie Williams.
The event was intended to help fight hunger and malnutrition in Durham and Greensboro.
“There are folks in dire need, and this brings attention to those individuals, with a little bit of fun, having our schools compete,” Saunders-White said.
Martin echoed her sentiments.
“I think it’s the right time for such an event,” Martin said. “We have lots of hungry people in our communities who are without food and shelter and are unemployed, and it’s important to make sure we are doing something that is meaningful to serve our communities.”
Shelita Nelson, area general manager for Sodexo, said the company will also donate 20 Thanksgiving dinner baskets to Durham residents through its Stop Hunger Initiative to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina in the name of the winning university.
“I’m excited,” Nelson said. “It’s good to see both chancellors excited the way they were.”
She said the main goals of the event were to make people aware of the hunger problems in Durham and to have fun.
Each team prepared two dishes, an appetizer and an entree for judges to taste and score. The secret ingredient was bacon. Some students stopped by to watch as they were on their lunch breaks. As the chancellors helped prepare the food, both looked to their executive chefs for advice.
“I love to cook, but I’m not used to cooking in front of cameras,” Saunders-White said. “But I love to cook and it’s a passion of mine. It was fun to work with a wonderful chef who was helping me to understand and telling me to ‘put more garlic in, put more garlic in,” she laughed.
Both teams created shrimp dishes for their appetizers, but went in different directions for their entrée dishes. NCCU’s team created a filet mignon dish and A&T’s team created a tuna dish. Ultimately, N.C. A&T’s team took home bragging rights and the trophy for best chef.
“I am so happy,” chef Williams said of her victory. “I was a little nervous but it was very fun. Aggie 100 percent.”
The chefs hugged it out.
“We’re going to have a good clean contest,” Saunders-White said about the football game. “And we’re exited about the opportunity to redeem ourselves.”