The International Cook-off returns for first time since 2019


Matthew Brown

The Indonesian team serves up food during the International Cook-off on Feb. 16, 2022.

Jesse Khalil Reporter

Team Indonesia takes first place and the People’s Choice award at the first International Cook-off since 2019.

Members Noor Agustina (Captain), Susi Rakhmawati, Oktavuiani Hidayah, Ikhasan Darmawan and Arisandy prepared caked rice cooked in banana leaves and Indonesian lamb curry served with pickled carrots and cucumbers and shrimp crackers as their prize-winning meal. 

“We are really glad to be back,” said Agustina. “We really were waiting for it because we can taste food from different countries, meet people from different countries and areas; that’s the most exciting thing.” 

Team Kazakhstan, represented by Akerke Menibekova (Captain), Rodney Isac, Rei Flora Hassaegawa, Souleymane Dansoko and Fatimah Alsaab, prepared boiled meat, onion and homemade egg noodles called Beshbarmak. The team walked away winning second place.


Third place was awarded to Team MENA (Middle East and North Africa), represented by Mohamed Henda (Captian). Henda prepared Kofta, made of cinnamon seasoned rice, a blend of spices and grilled lamb chunks.   

A panel of three faculty and staff judges voted on the overall winner of the competition, while students who tried the food got to vote for their favorite dish for the People’s Choice Award; Indonesia won both categories. 

Participants and attendees alike were happy to see the event start up again after being canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.

“I feel really grateful for the opportunity to try these dishes and have conversations with people from other countries,” said Anna Kropf, junior Early Childhood Education major. “I feel like I am eating genuinely good food made with love and good ingredients.” 

Changes were made to this year’s cookoff by the Office of Global Education in order to work around COVID guidelines. 

“The cookoff is typically associated with international education week in November, but because of the student activity protocols from COVID in the fall, we had to push it back to this semester,” said Jef Davis, the Associate Director for International Students and Scholarship Services in the Office of Global Education. 

The event usually draws in 600 people. However, while planning during the Omicron surge, the Office of Global Education feared that the turnout would be significantly less this year. The OGE came to the decision to make the International Cook-off 2022 a grab n’ go event, capping the registration to 150 students. 

“We created a pre-registration form for students who wanted to get food. We decided to make registration required for the event, and maxing it at 150, just because we were unsure of the COVID protocols at the time and we were not sure how the turnout would be,” said Davis. “However, now I wish we had not done that. There are a lot of people who did not register that still came by, which was great to see.” 

The cook-off received positive feedback from attendees despite the changes. 

“It was absolutely incredible to be a part of,” said Kropf. “I wish I could say more than just thank you. I got a really good insight on other cultures and even got to try their food. I had an amazing experience.” 

Jesse Khalil is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].