Each team got a plastic tub packed with 25 ingredients.
Among the items inside were two red peppers, four cloves of garlic, nine shrimp, one red onion, one cup of red wine vinegar, one pound of butter, two flat-iron steaks, three Idaho potatoes, four eggs, two heads of Boston lettuce, two cups of flour and two cups of heavy cream.
The mission? Plan a menu, prepare the food and wow the judges. Members of the better team would win bragging rights to take back to their offices at the American Academy of Family Physicians in Leawood.
It was JCCC’s version of Iron Chef America, compliments of Tim Johnson, the college’s award-winning executive chef. The Center for Business and Technology at JCCC offers Johnson’s culinary challenge to area businesses whose managers are looking for a fun event or a team-building exercise for employees.
“They had a blast,” Johnson said afterward, referring to the 18 staffers from AAFP’s practice management and health information technology divisions. “It’s Tim’s rules, and I change them up as I see best.”
The AAFP has participated in culinary activities with its staff in the past and they have always been popular, said Lisa Henderson, PT operations manager at AAFP.
“It gets us out of the office,” she said, “and lets us see each other in a different environment.”
The Center for Business and Technology, located in the Regnier Center on campus, offers customized solutions for businesses along with courses that focus on hard and soft skills. Consultants are available to assess any organization’s needs and to propose training to meet those needs, said Carol Lehman, a business solutions director with the center.
Johnson said he began offering the Iron Chef event to benefit charities while he was executive chef at Webster House in downtown Kansas City. Since joining JCCC’s Dining Services in 2006, he has won bronze medals twice, in 2007 and 2008, at the National Association of College and University Food Service Regional Culinary Challenge.
After two hours of fast work, the AAFP teams managed to produce printed menus and perfectly decent-looking appetizers, salads and steaks. Johnson had praise for both sides. But the three judges, who also were staff from AAFP, determined that the “Prairie Fresh Cuisine from the Heartland” team had beat out the team with “Plain & Simple, The Black and White Menu.”
Lehman said that the Iron Chef event is one of several that the center offers to build team spirit and improve communication among employees.“It’s a unique team-building event that we can offer a company that wants to do something different,” Lehman said. “We are lucky to have a great resource in Chef Tim Johnson.”