Planned by the Burton-Conner Graduate Resident Tutors (GRTs), the annual Burton-Conner Apple Bake competition is part Iron Chef, part art exhibit, pitting student against student to bake, cook, melt, blend and even sculpt all things apple.
“The Apple Bake has been going on since before I became housemaster over seven years ago,” said Cutten Professor of the History of Technology Merritt Roe Smith, who is housemaster at Burton-Conner along with his wife, Bronwyn Mellquist. “It just gets bigger and better every year.”
This year’s competition on Nov. 7 featured 190 entries in various categories including apple breakfast, apple drinks, “appletizer,” apple salad, apple entrée, apple pie, apple dessert and apple art. Some dishes seemed more incredible than edible — consider the drink entry titled “Scare Your Intestines into Digestion” — while others seemed as if they were torn from the pages of Martha Stewart Living.
But looks aren’t everything: the entries were also judged on taste and creativity, and the competition was fierce. Alumnus Kristin Fanucci ’10, who served as a judge this year, said that last year she had six entries, but didn’t win anything.
And to the victors go the bragging rights: Residents of Conner 2 — famous for their dishes and winners — proclaim their annual dominance with black T-shirts that read “Varsity Apple Bake.”
In Greek mythology, Hercules stole an apple from a garden guarded by a dragon. He may have had an easier time than someone trying to get a sneak peek at preparations for Apple Bake. Floors start planning their dishes almost a year in advance, and kitchen doors are shut tight on the day before the event.
“Accusations of spying run rampant,” Fanucci said.
At the Apple Bake, the creations were placed at tables by category with a score sheet for each dish. Judges included alumni, GRTs, housemasters, and professors and administrators such as Dean for Undergraduate Education Dan Hastings. Students left the room during judging, but crowded outside the door holding their plates and utensils, anxiously waiting for their chance to partake in the tasting.
Once the doors were opened, it was an apple frenzy, with students swarming the tables to taste the creations. When the dishes were empty and the votes were tallied (using, appropriately, pie charts) Conner 2 was once again a clear winner with 13 prizes. And everyone was smiling — which could have been for the delicious treats or because they were secretly plotting a strategy for next year.