Kitchen Wars

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. (Common App Essay)


Hands shaking, I lifted the cover of my makeshift steamer.

All families have their own “thing.” Some have game nights; others have movie nights. My family has a time-honored tradition of cook-offs. These competitions are not like the casual and friendly ones that you would see in movie montages. Far from it, our annual battle is one marked by harsh competition and unrelenting judges—my parents.

Armed with passable culinary skills and unassailable determination, I set out to win. The theme this year was “Asian Persuasion,” the last attempt of my parents’ continued effort to keep their kids connected with their Asian roots before my sister went to college. Rejecting the ideas of fried rice and chow mein because of their simplicity, I ransacked the internet for a dish that could display my innovation and culinary prowess. Then, an idea finally donned on me: elevate the ordinary. My dad has always said that a successful business isn’t one that can offer the lowest price, but rather one that can create added value. I wanted to apply this idea to my dish. Choosing the classical Chinese dish of soup dumplings, I aimed to incorporate the traditional Taiwanese dish of beef noodle soup. Coming up with an idea was the easy part.

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