A taste of southern hospitality, UNT merchandising and hospitality faculty turn up the oven in team building competition
August 24, 2010

Gone are the traditional team building activities with elaborate multi-media presentations and invited guest lecturers. To launch the 2010-2011 academic year, faculty in the School of Merchandising and Hospitality Management (SMHM) did what they do best.  They collaborated, competed, and cooked in a uniquely UNT rendition of Iron Chef.


Team leaders, Chef Watson Baldwin, Dr. Lynn Brandon, Dr. Annette Burnsed, Chef Jodi Duryea, Dr. Bharath Josiam, and Dr. Richard Tas, randomly selected faculty members in both merchandising and hospitality management divisions to form their groups. Following the theme "A Taste of Southern Hospitality- SMHM Style," faculty teams planned, purchased, prepared, and served a dish of their choosing. Teams were encouraged to work together and leverage the talents of each member.  For some faculty, the competition proved an excellent venue to showcase their amazing culinary talents. For others, their contributions focused on purchasing, presentation, and clean-up.  "Beyond expanding my culinary IQ, I gained a new appreciation for the patience, creativity, and energy of my fellow colleagues," says Dr. Christy Crutsinger, associate dean and professor in merchandising. 


Teams were given two hours to prepare their dishes which were judged by the SMHM staff for taste, creativity, and presentation. Dr. Tas' team won the best overall category for their dish, "Tas-ty Southern Peach Crisps."  The most creative dish was awarded to Dr. Brandon's team for their vegetarian entree, "Nouveau Louisane- No Shrimp Creole."  Inspired by the movie Fried Green Tomatoes, Chef Baldwin's team received the 'best taste' award for their "Tofu Crab Cake" served with creole mayonnaise.  In southern tradition, Dr. Burnsed's team won the best presentation award for their bountiful side dishes of sweet potato casserole topped with caramelized pecans, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and sweet corn.


The ingredients for a creating a delectable meal and building a successful SMHM team were readily apparent throughout the competition.  "Faculty relationships were strengthened in a very collaborative and competitive environment creating a sense of excitement and trust among colleagues," says Dr. Dee Knight, associate dean and associate professor in merchandising.  And it goes without saying, Knight adds, "whatever happens in the SMHM kitchen, stays in the SMHM kitchen."

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