Local chefs carve ice sculptures

Derek Harrison/Daily Evergreen

The Dining Services Ice Festival challenges local ice sculptors and entertains WSU students.

By Kari Bray

The sound of chainsaws and the sight of tumbling ice chunks caught the attention of passersby Tuesday afternoon in front of the Compton Union Building (CUB).

The second annual WSU Dining Services Ice Festival challenged local ice sculptors, including WSU chefs, to transform blocks of ice into creative artwork.

“You have to be somewhat of an artist to do ice sculptures,” said Northside Executive Chef Mel Dacanay, who has been sculpting ice for about 25 years. “You have to be fast because the ice will melt. You basically have a two-hour window.”

Before the end of those two hours, three blocks of ice had been sculpted, through a mix of power tools and chiseling, into the letters “WSU,” a Pittsurgh Steelers-themed football and a gracefully perched bird.

Students were offered free hot cocoa and Seattle’s Best Coffee, along with gifts such as coffee mugs, bags and shirts, while they watched the action.

Junior accounting major Anna Hansen said she was impressed by the use of power tools on the ice blocks.

“I wouldn’t know what I was doing,” she said. “I’m interested to see what (the sculptures) turn out like.”

Junior animal sciences major Abbi Olson said people were drawn in by the noise from chainsaws as they came out of the CUB.

“This is how I like to see ice on the mall,” she said. “In one piece, not in my walkway.”

The Ice Festival was held at Southside last year, but Dining Services decided to move it to Glenn Terrell Mall to give more people an opportunity to enjoy the event, said Greg Blanchard, executive chef of catering for Dining Services.

Associate Director of Dining Services Steven Walk said the festival is an opportunity for chefs to show their skills outside of cooking. It also gives them a chance to interact with students.

The festival drew a lot of positive attention this year, he said.

“It’s just something people don’t see every day,” he said.

Walk has been sculpting for more than 15 years.

“You have to be able to envision (the sculpture) in 3-D,” he said. “It’s just a lot of manipulation of the tools.”

Sculpting slowed down when a meeting in the CUB required that the power tools be limited to one shared chainsaw, but the sculptors took turns and kept at their work throughout the afternoon.

Sculpting is an enjoyable form of art, like music or painting, Dacanay said.

“There are chefs (at WSU), good chefs,” he said. “Not just in cooking, but artistically speaking.”

Jamie Donahoe, executive chef for the WSU bakery, spent her time at the event as a sculptor-in-training. Ice sculpting is quite a bit different from baking and decorating cakes, she said.

“Last year, I started my first adventure into ice carving,” she said. “This year, I hope to continue it.”

Dacanay said Dining Services will make the Ice Festival an annual event to give the WSU community a chance to meet the chefs and enjoy a unique experience.


About The Daily Evergreen

The Daily Evergreen is Washington State University's student-run newspaper.
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