Father Pivarnik, Father Brophy Compete in ‘Iron Chef Dominican’
The contestants in “Iron Chef Dominican 2012” at Providence College — Rev. R. Gabriel Pivarnik, O.P. (below) and Rev. Justin Brophy, O.P. (right) — worked feverishly at their food stations in Raymond Dining Hall, serving 1,700 student meals in 2 hours and 30 minutes.
Father Pivarnik, assistant professor of theology and director of the Center for Catholic and Dominican Studies, used 70 pounds of pasta to create his dish: rigatoni with pink vodka sausage sauce (vodka, heavy cream, crushed tomatoes, and onions), and roasted garlic bread on the side.
Father Brophy, assistant chaplain and campus minister, chopped 30 pounds of red onions for his sliders, which also were topped by bacon, blue cheese, and horseradish sauce, and accompanied by sweet potato fries with a curry mayonnaise.
PC students formed long lines in front of two Sodexo food stations to sample the offerings from “Team Gabriel” and “Team Brophy” and cast ballots for the best chef. Meanwhile, College Chaplain Rev. James Cuddy, O.P. ’98 and Kevin Peloquin ’13 (Milford, Mass.) carried microphones and provided a running commentary.
In the end, Father Brophy was declared the winner by just 20 votes, capturing the prize trophy, a skillet reading “Iron Chef 2012.” The event took place on Tuesday night, November 13.
“It was fun,” said Father Pivarnik, who joked that a Florida-style election recount was in the making. “I can say this: I was really sore when it was all done. I have a newfound respect for what Sodexo staff do day in and day out. All I wanted to do afterward was crawl home and take some Aleve.”
“I had a great time,” said Father Brophy. “I enjoyed the competition. I’m happy to win, but the biggest goal for me was to allow the students to have some fun, and I think we did.”
Dining service with a twist
The competition was the idea of Father Brophy, who is new to PC this academic year. He proposed that it be held in Slavin Center ’64 Hall before about 200 students who would buy tickets.
But Stuart Gerhardt, general manager for Sodexo, PC’s food service provider, had a different idea, according to Father Brophy.
“He said ‘No, we’re having it in (Raymond). We’ll give you a station, and you’ll cook for the whole student body,’” said Father Brophy.
Father Pivarnik and Father Brophy submitted lists of ingredients to Sodexo in advance. Wiser heads prevailed when Father Brophy proposed turning hamburger into 1,600 small patties on his own, and they arrived pre-made instead. Father Pivarnik’s menu, meanwhile, “was designed around the fact that I had class until 2:20,” with students arriving for dinner at 4:30, he said.
Each chef was assigned a food service staff member from Sodexo, but also brought extra help. In Father Brophy’s case, it was Sherry Humes Dane, director of liturgical music in the Office of the Chaplain/Campus Ministry, who joined him in the Raymond kitchen earlier in the afternoon, whisking a giant vat of mayonnaise, curry paste, and lime juice.
“I’m the sous chef. I usually play the organ in the chapel,” said Dane.
Working with such large quantities, the chefs relied heavily on taste tests. The red onions, which Father Brophy usually flavors with sugar and red wine, wound up with honey and a little cinnamon as well.
A feverish pace
Once the dinner hour began, there was little time for conversation. The chefs manned their food stations at a feverish pace, and it was hot behind the grills.
At Team Gabriel, skillets were wielded expertly by Father Pivarnik and Deacon Joseph E. Regali of Sacred Heart Church, North Attleboro, with help from Rev. James G. Sabak, O.F.M., assistant professor of theology. Sauce was spooned onto the hot skillets, then pasta was gently mixed in. The food was plated with a sprinkle of cheese and with garlic bread on the side.
Father Brophy was assisted by Dane and an assembly team of 15 students in a four-person rotation. Two buns, each spread with sauce, were placed on a plate, then topped with a burger, a crumble of blue cheese, a curl of bacon, and the onions. Sweet potato fries were shoveled onto the side.
Balloting was even throughout the night.
“I do love Father Brophy,” admitted Kristen Gold ’16 (Somers, N.Y.). “I was on his assembly team.” She described the sliders as “an unlikely medley of ingredients that all together tasted very interesting.” The night was “a great change of pace,” she said.
Meanwhile, Griffin Driscoll ’16 (New Canaan, Conn.) cast his ballot for Father Pivarnik.
“Not even close,” Driscoll said. “I thought the sauce was really good. You come into Ray and there’s always pasta, but I thought this was a little bit better quality.” There was a vegetarian sauce option, but “I went with the sausage,” he said.
A hurricane relief benefit, too
The Campus Ministry Pastoral Council set up a “Sweet Relief” bake table at the event with homemade cakes, cookies, and brownies in exchange for a donation to the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts of the American Red Cross. Almost $700 was raised.
Most students don’t carry cash, but the sale was promoted in advance by Student Congress and Campus Ministry, and many students arrived with $20 bills to put in the cash jar, said one of the organizers, Sarah Dwyer ’13 (Long Beach, N.Y.).
Dwyer’s home was flooded with four feet of water in Hurricane Sandy, and her family may not be able to live there for a year, she said. Last week, students collected 60 blankets for people still without heat, Dwyer added.
“So many students come from New York or New Jersey, or know people there,” said Dwyer.
She was able to sample food from the competition as well.
“Father Brophy’s burgers are really good,” said Dwyer.
— Vicki-Ann Downing
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