So the way that the culinary department ran the Iron Chef competition, each team had to come up with three courses while using the mandated ingredients of salmon (smoked or fresh) and rack of lamb. Some teams went crazy and tested out their menus; my team met for a couple of hour-long meetings and discussed what we would make - poached salmon salad for the first course, herb/nut-encrusted lamb with pearl rice risotto and carrots/asparagus for the main course, and a lemon pistachio mousse with candied kumquats as dessert. The overarching theme was the use of citrus and nuts throughout all three courses, and of course using local and seasonal produce.
My teammate Eric and I were in charge of the salmon salad, which for me involved washing arugula, thin-slicing and blanching fennel, segmenting oranges, toasting almonds and pistachios, frying capers (which was scary because I have never deep-fried anything in a pan), and then plating everything before an hour and a half was up. Most of what I did was captured on camera, because there's a culinary school alum pursuing broadcast journalism who decided to do a documentary on the competition. I volunteered to be one of the four students he followed, so maybe there will be a video I can link you all to in due time.
When it came time for plating, we discovered that our plates were not sufficiently cold, which then involved a mad scramble to stick the plates into the walk-in refrigerator, and then the freezer, and then back to our station, where the whole team assembled around me to watch/help me plate. This was the result:
We then carried out six plates to the judges (mostly chef instructors) and presented the dish with a description. Sadly, unlike on Iron Chef, there was no feedback from the judges so we had no idea what they thought of the dish.
Afterward I helped present the main course (in which the lamb was undercooked). And then the entire team presented the dessert, which I helped garnish.
All in all it was a slightly nerve-wracking but mostly exhilarating experience. My team didn't win, so we weren't the best, but I definitely don't think we were the worst. Hopefully I will be chosen to compete again sometime in my culinary school career, as by then I will have accumulated enough experience to have more of a hand in each and every one of the courses!