Top Chef Competition in English Class

Dr. Heather Wayne teaches indisputably the tastiest English 6 spring elective in the Upper School: You Are What You Eat. Food is so central to some novels that they almost function as secondary characters. You can’t read Hemingway without tasting an oyster or cassoulet. You can’t read Proust without thinking of a madeleine. This class examines the thematic, social, cultural, and historical meanings writers inscribe through representations of food in literature Students analyzed the ways authors entice readers to read more through their mouth-watering descriptions of food, reflect on their own food memories, and experiment with crafting their own food reviews.

As a culmination of the class, Wayne devised a “Top Chef” competition where the students were asked to prepare a meaningful sweet or savory dish and describe it to the class. The students sampled morsels of each other’s dishes and then voted on various pre-designated categories. The trophies awarded? A spatula, naturally.

As the class wrapped up, the students shared their thoughts of the class with one another. Some expressed their close camaraderie and the ease with which the class interacted with one another. Others took comfort in the joy of the class after their rigorous writing and research process of the Senior Thesis.

“I wanted to say I am so proud of all of you for making it through such a difficult year," Dr. Wayne said in closing.  "I’m proud of how you treated each other with so much kindness and encouragement. You were all so vulnerable and real with each other, and I was so moved by it. I hope, for better or for worse, you never think about food the same way ever again. And, in some small way, this class added a measure of joy to the end of your senior year.” 

The categories and winners were:

Best savory dish: Emma Henry: Guacamole
Best sweet dish: Jaden Weinstein: Brown butter toffee chocolate chip cookies
Best comfort food: Keegan McMahon: S’mores brownie clusters
Best expression of the chef’s personality: Sam Smith: Blueberry protein muffins 
Best description: Catherine Daniels: Oreo balls 
Best visual presentation: Bella Herz: Edible cookie dough
Most creative; Margo Dowgiewicz: Strawberry pretzel jello
Most ambitious: Braden Flowers: Tteobokki and banchan 
Most resourceful: Ian Givens: Chocolate chip banana bread 
People’s Choice Award (determined by the class): Drini Puka: Avocado and egg breakfast sandwich slider 
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