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Published in CenterView on February 13, 2012

Annual culinary throwdown benefits UMMC Alliance

By Jack Mazurak

Reports leaking from the Medical Center say the 2012 Taste of the U is stacking up as the snazziest, swingingest event yet.

Teams have squared off, picked themes and planned their eats. They're ready for the Feb. 25 party at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center. It all starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are on sale now.

All Taste of the U proceeds support the UMMC Alliance, a nonprofit organization whose projects benefit patients, students, faculty and staff.

With 26 teams representing groups all over the Medical Center, the competition is fierce. Ask what's cookin' and you'll get a lot of zipped lips.

But under pressure, a few birds are singing like canaries.

Putting their affAirs in public once again, insiders in the campus news agency say they're mad about ad men. That's one crew that can't keep their traps shut.

Questioned about their theme, the Division of Information Systems wouldn't dish. But don't get your feathers in a ruffle. They may be fowl now, but they know from their Sin City booth last year that what happens in DIS Vegas stays on the Q. T.

Wise guys, eh?

The School of Dentistry team clamped down when they suspected a mole in their organization. But drilled for information, they said to expect the greatest show in booth or big-top.

If mum's the word, then check out the silent auction. Local shops donated prize packs, artwork and other goodies for bidding. At center stage, attendees can cut the rug with a live band, Hunter Gibson and the Gators, as they jump-jive and wail out the tunes.

Speaking of bayou bruisers, some contestants have got green gators on the brain. Yes, our gumshoes tell us the guys and dolls in the Cardiovascular-Renal Research Center have set aside their tools of science to cook a Cajun feast.

Last year, lead swamp person Dr. Joey Granger and his Louisiana-themed team netted a prize catch - the Best Taste title. Will they reel it in again?

Whaddya talk?

As 2012 Taste of the U honorary chair, Dr. Helen Turner will be the belle of the ball. After 28 years on faculty, she's taking her retirement.

Turner earned her Ph.D. and M.D. at the Medical Center, which may have led to her appreciation not only for medicine and teaching, but to a commitment to serving her alma mater.

"I have been blessed to have many opportunities in my career, more than I could have ever imagined," said Turner, associate vice chancellor for academic affairs. "I have had opportunities in research, patient care, teaching and administration. I have spent most of my time in recent years in administration, which I have found very rewarding.

"But I have to say of all of the things I have done, the most rewarding have been taking care of patients and teaching students, residents and fellows."

During her tenure, Turner has seen tremendous growth at UMMC.

"Not only has the Medical Center grown in the number of academic programs, students, faculty and staff, but also in complexity," she said.

Taste of the U has grown, too. Turner has attended it since it took place at the Northpointe Red Barn in Northeast Jackson. She regularly helps Dr. Ruth Black, pastoral services director, with her team. The group operates a dessert-themed booth, "Heavenly Bites."

"Dr. Turner is a Godsend," Black said. " She's been an angel to help us each year, often wearing a halo, what an appropriate person to honor."

Taste of the U teams compete for several titles: Best Taste, Best Presentation and Overall Showmanship. A panel of local celebrity judges decides winners in each category and the overall winning team takes home bragging rights and the coveted pig trophy, Dr. Fine Swine. Attendees cast their votes for the People's Choice category.

So get your tickets, put on your three-piece, grab your gal Friday and cut loose for a good cause at the Medical Center's wildest event yet.

Taste tickets, T-shirts on sale

Tickets for the 2012 Taste of the U, scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Jackson Medical Mall Thad Cochran Center, are $25 for adults, $15 for students and $5 for children under 12. Taste-themed T-shirts are $10 each. All proceeds benefit the UMMC Alliance.

Tickets and T-shirts are available for sale from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the following locations:

  • Friday, Feb. 17: Entrance to McDonald's, Wiser Hospital lobby, Student Union
  • Friday, Feb. 24: Entrance to McDonald's, Wiser Hospital lobby, Student Union

Taste tickets also are available online at http://www.umc.edu/taste.html