Toluwani Awokoya

Tolu wins state-wide culinary competition

Toluwani Awokoya (Tolu) came to Iowa State to pursue nutritional science, a path inspired by his grandfather. Even though his studies focus on the scientific aspects of nutrition, Tolu still enjoys whipping up a good meal in the kitchen. So much so, he decided to compete in a competition at Iowa State.

His team didn’t place in the top three, but Tolu enjoyed it so much he decided to give another cooking competition a shot, The  Student Taste of Elegance competition, hosted by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Tolu and his team of four started preparing immediately, coming up with a dish that included pork shoulders. They decided on smoked braised pork shoulders with saffron in a white bean puree with heirloom tomato salad and chorizo croquette. They assigned each member a task, and when it came time for the competition in March, they raced against time to create their quality meal.

“We wanted to do it quickly, but do it well,” he said. “We had to balance time with quality.”

The judges approved, and Tolu’s team won first place at the competition.

“It meant a lot,” he said. “Although we aren’t a culinary school, we got prove that Iowa State still gives students good, culinary experiences.”

Tolu credits their success to their prior preparations, and recommends any students wanting to attempt a competition like this to do the same.

“Be creative, confident, and well prepared,” he said. “If you don’t prepare, you won’t finish in two hours.”

Tolu said he enjoyed the experience and intends on entering more competitions throughout college. Although they don’t relate to nutrition directly, Tolu said the lessons learned relate to his future professional self.

“It gave me more experience working with others,” he said. “You have to be able to relate to people. You need diligence and preparation in any career. This gave me that.”