I was introduced to the UNLV Epicurean Society in September of 2015 and boy was I in for a surprise! I found peers of mine who did not just consume their food as usual, but they actually enjoyed the whole experience as much as I do! I quickly learned that when dining with club members they paused, disassembled, questioned and savored each meal presented.

At one of the first UNLV Epicurean Society meetings I attended, I had the pleasure of experiencing a short demonstration in the field of Deconstructed Cuisine. It involved a deconstructed One-Bite Curry, broken into four segments, each building on top of the last. As a transportation device, a sliced scalloped potato acted as the base. This was topped with a caramelized onion pureed into a curry sauce acting as an adhesive for the next portion. The third round involved the honey-cumin roasted carrots, cooked just to the point of perfection, a bit of bite with little more than the weight of a closing jaw. Placed adjacent to the carrot slice was a bitter pickled apple slow cooked sous-vide style, the flesh mimicked the texture of the carrot while the apple skin left a textural contrast. “That bite was delicious,” said one club member. Jonathan, another club member, particularly enjoyed the curry sauce, stating, “I love this Curry sauce! I am going to put it on everything!” Come to think of it, the sauce bottle mysteriously disappeared as soon as the demo was finished. Something makes me think he had all intentions of putting it on everything. I look forward to this year’s culinary education sessions with great anticipation. So far planned for this upcoming semester is a homemade pasta demo and molecular gastronomy demonstration.

Later in the 2015 year, club members took an outing to a wonderful restaurant by the name of “Jayde Fuzion” whose head chef, Chef Mark Sandoval, is also a food and beverage instructor on our campus. Chef Mark Sandoval created a 14-course meal of Asian Fusion entrées ranging from Thai Lettuce Wrap to an Ice Cream Mochi Trio. We had nearly 30 individuals attend the restaurant outing and every single one of us enjoyed a culturally diverse menu. At first I was somewhat skeptical of the possible quality of the seafood, as Nevada is miles from the coast. Growing up in San Diego, it is easy to find fresh seafood on every corner. To my surprise the seafood was phenomenal! The sushi seemed to disappear from the table before the last dish was taken away. Plate after plate went by in a myriad of beautiful colors.

By the end of the outing we found the consumption of desserts both an impossible and daunting task. But of course, we had to take a small sampling. The Lemon Cake with a passion fruit frosting and raspberries was the perfect balance of bitter and sweet to finish off such a wonderful meal.

The month of October was a very busy month for our group. The Epicurean Society partnered with the Beverage Club to throw our second annual “Epiktoberfest.” We commandeered both a dining room and kitchen on the campus of UNLV, and cooked up a storm to serve more than 30 people. We prepared Bratwurst, Kielbasa and Potato Pancakes. The Beverage Club supplied an accompaniment of German brews to top off the event. It went off without a hitch and the UNLV Epicurean Society looks forward to doing a similar event this year!

Late in October the Epicurean Society hosted a bake sale for Halloween. We cooked up Pumpkin Spice Muffins, Popcorn Gelatin Balls, Apple Cider, Chocolate Pumpkins and Rice Krispies Treats. We worked the sale dressed in appropriate Halloween garb. The perplexed looks as a taco walked around dishing out muffins was a great conversation starter about our club.

In the upcoming year we have many things already planned. We have planned numerous restaurant outings, a few cooking events and some volunteering events. Our major event upcoming is a huge event where students will take part in setting up and preparing “UNLVino,” a 3-day tasting of fine wine, spirits and gourmet food. Proceeds go to help fund UNLV scholarships. A number of UNLV Epicurean Society members will be managing and preparing the food for these events, myself included. So consider attending the event in March and be sure to say hello!