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Mystery Ingredient Challenge: Ingredients revealed

As part of UCOP’s 2020 Multicultural Week celebration — Culture & Connection in the Kitchen — we’re hosting a “Chopped”-inspired Mystery Ingredient Challenge (see last week’s Link for more details).

Challenge ingredients

UCOP affinity groups have selected five ingredients for contestants to showcase their cooking creativity and storytelling genius!

Asian and Pacific Islander Staff Association (APISA): Black pepper: Symbolizes the Spice Trade between Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, which increased information flow and commerce.

Black Staff and Faculty Association (BFSA): Cayenne pepper: It is an old Southern ingredient that enhances your food. It’s used in the South to help boost the stomach’s defense again infection, increase digestive fluid production and help deliver enzymes to the stomach.

Latino Staff Association (LaSA): Hominy: Corn is a major staple in Latin American countries, where it’s used in many forms, including hominy and cornmeal. Some form of corn is used to make a number of different dishes like tortillas, tamales, humitas, arepas and pupusas.

Native American, Indigenous and Pacific Islander Staff Association (NAIPISA): Spam: This canned pork was introduced to the colonized people of Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and Asia by the U.S. military.  These cultures have incorporated Spam into many of their comfort food recipes. 

President’s Advisory Committee on the Status of Women (PACSW): Cilantro: Cilantro is believed to be one of the earliest herbs used by people and one of the first spices to arrive in the Americas.  All parts of the plants can be eaten, including its roots.

Challenge rules

Interested employees are encouraged to participate by following these contest rules:

  • Recipes must include all five ingredients
  • Recipes must be able to be replicated in 20 minutes or less
  • Contestants must include a creative story that shares why these ingredients work (or how they developed the recipe given these ingredients)
  • Contestants must either attend the Friday, Oct. 23 event to share their story live or submit a pre-recorded 5-minute video.
  • If you plan to participate, send your name, email and department to
  • Contestants must submit the entry form (PDF) with a photo or pre-recorded 5-minute video no later than 5 p.m. (PT) on Thursday, Oct. 22.

Entries will be judged on:

  • Creativity
  • Use of all or most of the ingredients
  • Connection of recipe to contestant story
  • Visual appeal

The winner will get bragging rights — and will keep the special UCOP Chef Hat trophy for one year!

For questions, contact

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