Culinary greatness comes to Mercyhurst

Mercyhurst Student Government (MSG) and the Student Activities Council (SAC) brought out students’ culinary genius Friday, Feb 3.

Celebrity chef Mary Sue Milliken spoke as the second installment of MSG’s 2011-2012 speakers’ series. Milliken has competed on Food Network shows including Top Chef Masters and Iron Chef, authored five cookbooks and owns the renowned “Border Grill” restaurants.

Jill Barrile photo: Senior Rachel Brown, junior Kayla Clark and senior JoEllen Marsh pose with chef Mary Sue Milliken during Friday's cooking challenge with the culinary star.Jill Barrile photo: Senior Rachel Brown, junior Kayla Clark and senior JoEllen Marsh pose with chef Mary Sue Milliken during Friday’s cooking challenge with the culinary star.

She spoke to students about her life and the obstacles she encountered getting to where she is today.

“It’s a matter of catching the balls that get thrown at us,” Milliken said referring to the many obstacles she has overcome.

She additionally explained to students the hard decisions that she has made in life and how students will face the same dilemmas because you “can’t have it all.”

“Chef Mary Sue Milliken’s passion spread through the entire audience when she discussed elements of her career,” junior Hannah Beck said. “Whether the environment, working atmosphere prejudices, healthy eating or her passion to create, she inspired me to, as she said, ‘put my blinders on’ to those who judge me or do not think my dreams can be made possible.”

Directly following this event was the SAC sponsored Chopped: MU Style.

Twelve teams competed in the first round when they had 25 minutes to make an appetizer with the food provided and four mystery items. Four teams made it on to round two for the final challenge of making desert. Milliken, Michelle Tobin, Ph.D., and Gerry Tobin, Ph.D., judged the competition.

Team five, consisting of junior Kayla Clark and seniors JoEllen Marsh and Rachel Brown won the overall competition.

SAC and MSG worked with Parkhurst Dining Services to create this event.

Director of Catering Julie Resler explained how they took the student’s vision and executed it the best they could.

“I think (the competition) is a neat thing, and I like how many students are involved in the culinary world,” Resler said.

Parkhurst’s Executive Chef Marcy Fickes expressed their willingness to help students.

“We are all about food,” said Fickes. “Any student group can contact us, and we are willing and able to partner with anything culinary.”

Milliken was just as excited about the event and being at Mercyhurst.

“I wish I could be in college,” Milliken said.

Milliken was impressed with the students and commented on the great environment. She was also in awe of the teamwork displayed at the competition.

“It’s great to see the students so passionate,” she said.