Eight culinary students were handed a chainsaw on the street Friday evening. It was their first time sculpting ice.
Outside the UT Convention Center, spectators could stop and pay tribute to this year's Winter Olympics with ice sculpting and Russian-inspired food provided by the UT Culinary program. The sculptors were instructed by master ice carver Ryan Spangler and Indonesian certified executive chef Dadang "DJ" Djajadiredja, executive chef Greg Eisele said.
"Ice carving was sort of a dying breed a couple years back, but we are reviving that, or at least trying to," Eisele, UT's culinary director, said. "They're all carving a dolphin. We hope it'll be a dolphin. It may be a minnow, so we'll see."
Ice sculpting is one module of the 12-week intensive program the students are currently taking.
Tara Garland graduated from the program in December and sculpted during her time as a student.
"The first 10 minutes they got here, (the instructors) said, 'OK, here's a chainsaw. This is how you do it. Good luck,'" Garland, a junior in math and an executive assistant for the culinary program, said. "It was so much fun. It's a little intimidating at first, because you're using a chain saw, but it's a lot easier than it looks."
Students were divided into two groups of four and each group agreed upon one object to sculpt, the first deciding upon a dolphin and the second selecting a rose. First, the students were instructed to create a block-like figure to shape the dolphin. Spangler then told the students to create various 45-degree angles around the edges of their square dolphin shape with chain saws. Next, they moved on to smaller tools and detail work.
Sochi was also represented through appetizers called "Russian Bites." Culinary student John Dilbeck served "salmon pancakes," or potato cakes topped with marinated salmon and dill sour cream. This wasn't Dilbeck's favorite appetizer, though.
"This is Russian-themed food," Dilbeck said as he waited his turn to carve. "The salmon, the goat cheese and the turkey. And then we've got a fruit parfait strudel. It's awesome."
The strudel was composed of dried cherries, apple and vanilla cream. In addition, the menu offered white Russian canapés with roast turkey, farmer's cheese and rye toast. Students finished off the menu with homemade punch topped with fresh blackberries.
Eisele called the event a farewell to the 2014 Winter Olympics. But, for his students, he maintained the journey wasn't quite over.
"It takes a lot to impress me," he said. "Just ask my students. I'm happy, but it could always be a little better."