While many a lazy Saturday includes laying on the couch, students and spectators made their lounging a little more active with the first ever Great Boston Couch Race, a celebration of pan-Asian cuisine and a rebranding for the House of Tsang brand sauces and oils.
Saturday the shops at Prudential Center in Boylston Plaza were transformed into an obstacle course to host the race. Teams drove custom engineered bike pedal couches to get the fastest time. The obstacles of the race were designed to represent the obstacles of an average hungry person cooking dinner and having a movie night at home on his or her couch.
“We’ve custom-built couch bikes, and so now there are only two of these in the world,” said Ben Boskovich, a House of Tsang spokesman. “They’re hooked up so that you can run through this course that we’ve built.”
Contestants first picked up a DVD, then competed in a “Wok toss” with vegetables, then selected a protein. After the ingredients were selected, contestants switched couches with their opponents and raced back to the finish line.
Some of the first contestants of the day had a great experience with the Great Boston couch race.
“Even though we lost it was a fun experience,” said Elisa Girard, contestant of the race. “I’m glad we came out. It was fun learning about stir-fry while riding on a couch.”
Her husband and teammate, Vivian Girard, also said he had a good time.
“We got some free sauce so we are going to try it,” Girard said. “We learned a lot about stir-fry from the race. It was an original way to learn about cooking for sure.”
The Girards’ opponents, John and Lorae Stolpp, were very enthusiastic about their experience.
“It was fun and crazy!” Lorae said. “Crashing into the poles was our favorite part. It was very exciting. I couldn’t control my back end!”
Her husband took joy in a more simple factor: winning.
“It was a kick,” he said. “We love stir fry and we love their stuff. Winning was very fun! The couch ride was very relaxing while my wife was taking her time pedaling through the course.”
While House of Tsang wanted its participants of the Great Boston Couch Race to have a fantastic time, their main goal was to enforce the practice of stir-fry.
“The message we are trying to get across is that making stir-fry is easy,” Boskovich said. “You can have a lot of fun just on your couch when you use House of Tsang sauce.”
The brand was emphasizing its marketing plan of turning Thursday into “Stirsday,” a concept that asks customers to transform normal Thursday night dinners into a night with stir-fry using House of Tsang stir-fry sauces.
“We have Taco Tuesday and we have Wing Wednesday, but good old Thursday doesn’t have anything to associate with,” Boskovich said. “So we’re going to turn Thursday into Stirsday, the night that you eat stir-fry with House of Tsang sauces.”
Stir-frying is a form of Chinese cooking that combines two techniques that prepare food in a wok: chǎo and bào. These two techniques differ in their speed, amount of heat used and amount of tossing done to cook the food in a wok.
“There’s a perception out there that stir-fry isn’t the most approachable and easy dinner option, and that’s not true,” Boskovich said. “When you have sauce like House of Tsang it’s like the secret ingredient.”
Jake Nelson, product manager for House of Tsang, said Thursdays can be the most difficult time for meal planning. House of Tsang saw this as an opportunity to use their sauces to make dinnertime easier and more exciting.
“We hope this event really equates our brand with a lot of fun and a lot of stir-fry,” Nelson said. “We’re trying to tie the stir-fry concept to fun and our sauces. That’s really the goal.”
Nelson said he was very pleased with the execution of the race.
“It’s a little chilly, but we really can’t control that,” Nelson said. “I think the set up and turn out look great. Things went very well.”
Participants and attendees were also impressed with the final product of the race.
“The race was really fun to watch,” said Danielle Glenn, who watched the race from the sidelines. “I like how they incorporated the elements that go into their stir-fry recipes like the protein and vegetables. This was a fun way to get people, including myself, to try cooking stir-fry.”
Boskovich said the House of Tsang sauces will help make “Stirsday” easy to achieve because the sauces allow for a short recipe and a simple “3-2-1” cooking formula.
“Our recipes are simple,” Boskovich said. “It’s protein, a vegetable and in less than 30 minutes you can have a great meal. It’s great for people who live a busy lifestyle and don’t have a lot of time to cook elaborate dinners.”
Tyler Ramirez, another couch-watcher, said he is enthusiastic to use his new House of Tsang sauce.
“I love to cook, but stir-fry is something that’s always been way out of my comfort zone,” Ramirez said. “After attending the Boston Couch Race I’m excited to try stir-fry for sure. I can’t wait until Stirsday.”
The two best teams at the race were awarded items that included an Xbox One console and a six-month subscription to Netflix. People who tweeted about Stirsday and teams who won races throughout the day won prizes that varied from Netflix subscriptions, a Samsung 32’’ flat screen LED HDTV, a Samsung WiFi Blu-ray Player, to various House of Tsang product bundles.
In addition to these prizes, the House of Tsang brand also offered attendees a chance to taste four different sauces in a sampling tent, and also see demonstrations of the simple stir-fry recipes that House of Tsang is indorsing to kick-start Stirsday.
“Some people may ask why we are here, and the answer is that we’re here to show you that these sauces are amazing and something that you always want to have in your fridge.”