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Flaherty Food Fights promotes giving, community

| Friday, February 28, 2020

Thirty-one dorms. Two dining halls. One secret ingredient.

Flaherty Food Fights, the dorm’s “Chopped”-style cooking competition and signature event, began Thursday night at North and South Dining Halls. Junior Theresa Rogers, who founded the event last year, said she was inspired by the dorm’s roots in Pangborn Hall.

“I have a family friend who lived in Pangborn, and she was telling me about how she and her friends would go to the dining hall and each choose a little ingredient, and they’d all have to make their dinner based off of that ingredient,” Rogers said. “All the girls from Flaherty were originally from Pangborn, so it’s cool to have that little tie back.”

In the food fights, cooking teams of two to four use ingredients in the dining hall, plus one special ingredient, to make a delicious meal. Sophomore Nichola Keane-Murphy competed on last year’s runner-up team from Lyons Hall and said she enjoyed the camaraderie of the event.

“It was fun to collaborate with some other people from my dorm who I don’t really get to hang out with much,” she said. “It was really cool how the dining hall staff would help us with anything we needed, like finding equipment. They would run to the back to grab us extra pans, extra spatulas and stuff. It was really cool to interact with the head chef of the dining hall.”

Rogers said the dining hall staff were excited and engaged with the idea right away.

“Last year, for the final round of the competition, the chefs all went to the Asian markets the morning before to find some really random ingredients. When I showed up in the basket, I was like, ‘What is this?’ They said, ‘I don’t know. Have at it,’” she said.

Teams can earn more time for cooking by raising more money for the dorm’s signature charity, Beacon Children’s Hospital. Keane-Murphy said Lyons really came together in order to help Beacon and their dorm-mates.

“We reached out to our dorm’s GroupMe and said, ‘Hey, here’s this link, donate to it so that we can get extra time.’ We got enough [money] to get the maximum amount of time, and it was really helpful to be able to make something a little bit more … exciting,” Keane-Murphy said.

Flaherty donates to Beacon year-round with events like DVD drives and occasional service trips. Rogers said her dorm is proud of the work the hospital does.

“It’s really been a force for good in the lives of these children, because it’s the only comprehensive children’s hospital in our area, so people come from all over Michigan and Indiana to go there,” she said.

Rogers said Flaherty has made a few changes to the event this year in the hopes of drawing more participants. They cut the event down to two nights rather than three and added a prize raffle for anyone who donates to their page. Last year, the dorm raised $1,700 through the event, and Rogers hopes to exceed that goal this year.

“It’s been really interesting to try to make things really streamlined and easy for people who want to participate,” Rogers said. “Getting people to hear about it is the most important aspect, I think.”

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