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For a few tense moments, the eight students vying for "Top Chef Chez Harris" hovered over a table of grilled chicken, fresh veggies and parmesan cheese. The contestants had just 12 minutes to create a tasty entrée with ingredients regularly available in Connecticut College´s main dining hall, Harris Refectory.
"You are going to have to clear the way," competition host Devon Butler ´10 said to diners and audience members eagerly anticipating the start. "They are going to have to cook!" With that, Butler yelled "Go!"
The novice chefs began working frantically to create the perfect dishes under the watchful eye of the judges - President Leo I. Higdon Jr., coach William Wuyke, Corey Testa ´10, Jane Thompson ´11 and Harris cook Eddy Rodriguez. Then came the moment of truth. The judges diligently tasted and scored each dish based on taste, creativity and presentation.
"I am very nervous," contestant Corey Ogilby ´12 said as the judges sampled her entrée of grilled chicken, spinach and melted cheese. Ogilby had nothing to fear. She and four other students were selected to compete in the dessert round. Each had only had five minutes to craft a sweet treat from bananas, ice cream, cinnamon and peanut butter. After sampling the creative desserts, the judges told the contestants they had made a decision. Butler was handed a secret ballot with the name of the first ever "Top Chef Chez Harris."
The audience was silent with anticipation as Butler announced Ogilby´s grilled chicken dish and cinnamon-flavored dessert had earned her the title and a gift certificate to Olio Restaurant, an upscale eatery in Groton, Conn. As the crowd cheered, bystanders congratulated Ogilby. As Top Chef, she has bragging rights - at least until next time.