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ISSUE 116 VOL 11 PUBLISHED 2/21/2003

Tasting the fear, cafeteria style

By Jane Dudzinski
News Editor


Friday, February 21, 2003

Last Wednesday night, five St. Olaf students faced a challenge for the first time in the college’s history: cafeteria-style Fear Factor.

Selected at random from a drawing of 45 interested applicants, the five students ate a variety of dishes specially prepared by Bon Appétit Executive Chef Greg Colline in front of an audience of caf-goers.

The dishes included squid tentacles, snails, beluga eggs, veal testicles, oysters, pig’s brain and pureed pig liver. Each contestant was paired up with one other person and tried to consume the dishes in the allotted time (or before their partner).

The champion, David Ristuben ‘05, won two tickets to a Minnesota Wild game and a sweatshirt, while the four finalists, Lance Kuehn ‘05, Katherine Olson ’06, Amy Stark ’06 and George Cunningham ‘06–along with Ristuben–won a gourmet five-course meal together, which will also be specially prepared by the chef.

Olson, one of the finalists, said that the worst thing that she had to eat was the pig’s liver "shake."

"I really disliked it," said Olson. "Not so much because it was pig’s liver, but because it was a meaty shake. I don’t think I would have even liked to eat a beef shake."

Stark thought that the pig’s brain was the worst food that she had to eat.

"It was horrible," said Stark. "I don’t know if it was the taste, the texture, or the knowledge of what I was eating that made me spit it out [into the bucket]."

Ristuben, the eventual champion, however, revealed his secret that helped him to win Fear Factor in the Caf.

"It’s all a mind game," Ristuben said. "Everything that tells you that eating testicles is gross is in your head, not your tastebuds. I didn’t even think about what I was eating as I chewed on them, and I think that helped."

Olson, who was paired against Ristuben, commented that "He was an eating machine. There was no way that I could have kept up with him, so why try. It’s not worth it to eat all of that gross food."

The contestants decided to get involved for a variety of reasons. Olson said that she does not consider herself a picky eater and thought that the contest sounded maneagable, while Stark really wanted to win the Wild tickets and was surprised that she was even picked from the large pool of applicants.

Kuehn, on the other hand, based his decision to try Fear Factor in the Caf on his past experiences. Besides watching the nationally televised show, he was last year’s Cafeteria pie-eating contest champion.

"I have watched Fear Factor many a night and every time I saw them eat something I thought to myself, ‘I could do that easily,’" Kuehn said.

Ristuben agreed, and also decided to enter the contest along similar premises.

"I’ve always been the adventurous type when it comes to trying new food, so I was curious to see what these things tasted like," Ristuben said.

Now, however, after being eliminated in the final round, Kuehn has a new perspective on the Fear Factor in the Caf.

"No matter how strong you are mentally or internally, it gets to you," Kuehn said. "The idea of eating the food did not get to me at first, nor did the smell of it or the guy eating next to me. Then it hit me: the texture of the food. I thought I could do it, but that one little thing got me."

Overall, the contestants said that their experiences were positive, and they would be willing to try something similar again.

"I am glad that I tried it and did not walk away after hearing the menu," said Stark. "I think I would probably do it again; it was really funny now that I think about it. And who doesn’t want a funny memory?"

Kuehn agreed and offered one last piece of advice.

"I would do it again," he said. "Everything is worth trying again. My last comment is: just because it is a delicacy somewhere else, does not mean that it’s better than a burger."





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