Paris Cullen/Daily Nexus

This quarter’s Green Chef sustainable cooking competition, hosted by the Environmental Affairs Board, featured locally-grown organic beets. Paris Cullen/Daily Nexus

The Associated Students Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) hosted their quarterly Green Chef sustainable cooking competition Sunday afternoon in the Student Resource Building.

This quarter, beets were the sustainable ingredient required for all competitors’ dishes. The dishes were separated into appetizers, entrées and desserts, and attendees were invited to sample and vote for their favorites, while the winners of each category received a gift card to the Isla Vista Food Co-op.

EAB Green Chef Coordinator Kristen Herrera said the required ingredient is always locally grown and organic.

“We basically take local, organic, in-season foods and we distribute that to students so that they can then make their own dishes with whatever that ingredient is,” Herrera said. “The I.V. Food Co-op has given us the beets that are the highlight.”

EAB Co-Chair Heather Vest said the event started several years ago, and said it encourages students to cook using sustainable, local foods by providing the ingredients for free.

“It’s a pretty big event. Every quarter people come out and love to cook. … I think it teaches a lot about how to cook sustainably in I.V., which is really important,” Vest said. “It also just teaches people how to cook in general. Giving recipes out and stuff, it’s awesome.”

Paris Cullen/Daily Nexus

Is it beets? All dishes from participants in the competition had to include the dark purple root. Paris Cullen/Daily Nexus

Fourth-year sociology and communication major Christina Laskorunsky, who attended the Green Chef competition, said she enjoyed the event’s atmosphere and food selection.

“There’s a really nice community feeling [to the competition],” Laskorunsky said. “Everything is vegetarian or organic or local and I think that’s really good.”

Laskorunsky also said the event makes a positive impact on the I.V. and Santa Barbara community because consuming produce from local farms helps promote local economic growth, health and sustainability.

“Sustainability is important just because it makes our food healthier and helps the environment. It’s good for helping our local farmers instead of farmers from who-knows-where. It strengthens community bonds,” Laskorunsky said. “I like the idea of community coming together for a common purpose, and getting local food is a part of that.”

Fourth-year biology major Maxine Hamilton and fourth-year biology and environmental studies major Veronica Emrich both cooked one the event’s winning dishes — Thai beet stew with creamy peanut sauce. Hamilton said she largely enjoyed the Green Chef competition because it engaged students to actively think about the environmental impacts of food production.

“I’m all about sustainable food and how food relates to our impact on the environment,” Hamilton said. “I think it’s an important topic to get people on campus thinking about, and it’s a really fun way to do it because everybody gets free food.”

The Green Chef competition will take place again Spring quarter with a new special ingredient selected by EAB Green Chef Coordinator Herrera.