Student Pleun van Iersel (21) won WUR’s vegetarian cooking competition, a spin-off of the Week Without Meat, with her oyster mushroom shawarma. The winning dish can soon be enjoyed at the campus restaurants.
Participants of the cooking competition, with winner Pleun van Iersel in the centre. © Hans Berendsen
During the Week Without Meat, students and employees could submit their favourite vegetarian recipes. From these submissions, Facilities and Services and the four WUR caterers, who were jointly responsible for the organisation of the cooking competition, selected five finalists. Those competed on Thursday 11 April in a Great WUR Bake-Off.
‘Simple yet scrumptious’
During the final, in which the participants prepared their favourite vegetarian dishes and had them tasted by the jury, Pleun van Iersel’s oyster mushroom shawarma was elected winner as it is a ‘simple dish’ that is still ‘scrumptious’. Other participants made Taiwanese rice dumplings, stir-fried mushrooms, pumpkin curry and Indonesian fried rice with fried vegetables.
Luc Roefs (25), student Management, Economics and Consumer Studies, made the pumpkin curry. He is happy with the initiative. ‘I am a vegetarian, and I wouldn’t mind a larger vegetarian and vegan offer at the WUR restaurants. If WUR aims to be a leader in the field of sustainability and health, there are still improvements to make. A few additional vegetable options. At the same time, it should not be pushy: freedom of choice is also important.’
Student Bioinformatics Sausan Nafisah (29) made Indonesian fried rice. ‘It is usually made with chicken and egg. I replaced those with cauliflower in beer batter and fried vegetables. I am not a vegetarian, but I really like cooking, so I entered this competition. When I cook well, it makes people happy, and that makes me happy in return.’
© Hans Berendsen
The structure of oyster mushrooms
Van Iersel is studying Food Technology and Nutrition & Health. ‘I did not expect I would win. I thought the Taiwanese rice dumplings were the most special dish. The secret of my oyster mushroom shawarma is that the oyster mushroom already has the right structure. Add bell peppers, onions and shawarma spices, and you’re done.’
Inge Buitink of Facilities and Services is happy with this first edition of the cooking competition. ‘There were many enthusiastic entries, from which we made a nice international and diverse selection for the finals. That means that there is certainly an interest for this type of competition. Together with the caterers, we have agreed that we will organise this again next year, because such a competition is a nice way for both Facilities and Services and the caterers to get in touch with students and staff and to inspire one another with meatless dishes.’
The oyster mushroom shawarma will soon be available at the restaurants on campus. If you are curious about the other dishes, no worries. The five recipes from the finals will soon be made available in a digital WUR cookbook.