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NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

The Independent Student Voice of NMSU Since 1907

NMSU Round Up

575 Food Fight at NMSU invites local chefs to compete head-to-head 

Leah De La Torre
575 Food Fight contestants heavily consider presentation in their plated dishes. Feb. 26, 2024.

The first ever 575 Food Fight was held on Feb. 26 at the 100 West Café inside Gerald Thomas Hall. The competition, organized by the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, welcomed four chefs who competed for the two spots in the championship competition later in March. It is based on the 505 Food Fight competition that originated in Albuquerque.  

The four contestants were Daniela Tuda, Illyana Varela, and Mario Beltran from Doña Ana Community College, and Andres Flores from El Paso Community College. They were tasked with creating two dishes in one hour, using three secret ingredients for the first dish and two for the other.  

The secret ingredients consisted of tofu, pineapple, and white chocolate. The chefs were given ten minutes prior to the start of the timer to brainstorm what dishes they would create with the peculiar assortment of ingredients.  

All four contestants are introduced before beginning the competition, as seen left to right: Mario Beltran, Illyana Varela, Daniela Tuda, and Andres Flores. Feb. 26, 2024. (Leah De La Torre)

Colleen Caldwell, a culinary student from DACC, came out to show her support for the competitors and talked about what she was excited to see from the chefs.  

“I’m looking forward to seeing how clever they’re going to be with these three unusual ingredients,” she said.  

A few examples of the dishes they cooked were jalapeño tofu tacos, pineapple topped chicken with glazed carrots, and tofu ratatouille.   

NMSU students Jonathan Uvalle and Ryan Mixon assisted the chefs in the competition and discussed both the culinary arts community at NMSU and the competition itself.  

“What it’s introducing is a new experience where culinary fans are able to… show off their skills,” Uvalle said.  

Not only were the students excited to see the competitors cook creative dishes, but they also enjoyed watching the competition so closely.

Contestants take to their stations to prepare their dishes once the timer starts. Feb. 26, 2024. (Leah De La Torre)

“Smelling what people are about to taste is amazing,” Mixon said.

At the end of the competition, Flores and Varela finished on top, and will go on to compete in the 575 Food Fights Finale on March 16. The other two slots in the finale will be filled by the winners of the competition on March 4.  

Flores described what the culinary arts means to him and his experience being in the 575 Food Fight kitchen.  

“I’m just so grateful that I had the opportunity,” Flores said. “I think the main inspiration for my love of the culinary arts in general is my grandmother. She has always believed in me.”

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About the Contributors
Kaden Martinez, Staff Writer
Kaden Martinez is entering his first year at The Round Up as both a staff and a sports writing intern. This is his first time writing for a local publication (or any publication for that matter!). He is also entering his first year as a freshman majoring in Cybersecurity with a minor in Computer Engineering. Since his dad is in the military, he has moved all around New Mexico, having lived in Albuquerque, Springer, Maxwell, and finally Rio Rancho where he graduated. He is the oldest of three siblings. Kaden has always enjoyed writing, whether it was school related or as a hobby. He decided to become a member of The Round Up both to broaden his horizons and step out of his comfort zone by trying something new. Some of his interests include exercising, playing sports, video games, TV shows, and movies.
Leah De La Torre, Multimedia Specialist
Leah De La Torre is entering her second year at The Round Up as a multimedia specialist. She will be majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. She grew up in El Paso, Texas. De La Torre has been making videos with her family and friends since she was in elementary school, and her love for the camera continued through high school as she became a member of the video and broadcast team. There, not only did she learn more about photography and video making but gained an interest in journalism. Her other interests include playing the cello, sewing, and listening to her favorite music artists like Her’s and The Strokes. Working for The Round Up, she hopes to continue doing what she loves, being behind the camera and contributing to making and telling stories about her community.

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