As the spring semester winds down for the students of The UNLV Epicurean Society we have had a last few events before taking a break for the summer. At the top of the list are two events which included a visit to the UNLV Aramark-run kitchen and a tour of Shake Shack’s back of the house.

We visited Shake Shack, which is part of the New York New York resort. I will be the first to admit having a bit of a bias against Shake Shack. I am an admitted In-N-Out cultic. When we first met the manager, he informed us that this restaurant is an East Coast brother who could go toe to toe. Let’s just say I was a bit skeptical. But boy was I in for a surprise! Mr. Michael Wang, Senior General Manager in charge of both the location at New York New York and the Summerlin restaurant, sat down with us for a quick talk outside the establishment.

We talked about the distinct position that this Shake Shack is in. This being primarily that Shake Shack as a brand is anticipating overall expansion plans, both nationally and internationally into east Asia. After our chat, we headed into the back of the house for a fascinating tour. The biggest impact I noticed was the keg cooler reminiscent of large restaurants such as Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens back home in San Diego, California. I found it quite out of place for a quick service establishment. To my delight I found I was really beginning to like this place! We scouted around the break room, walk-ins, and dish pit, ending in the kitchen, my favorite part of any restaurant. I have to say, though slim in walking space, this kitchen was absolutely beautiful. The kitchen was also set up in a manner where the staff was able to close down a portion of the kitchen for a slow transitional timeframe and open it up later for a hectic period. After sitting down to a table of food, the Epicurean family dug in. I have to say that after sampling the food, the Shake Shack is in a whole other league than In-N-Out Burgers back home. The comparison does not do either businesses justice. A comparison to Smash Burger is more appropriate given the feeling of the establishment, service of alcohol, freshness of the ingredients, and the size of the menu. If you swing by Shake Shack I suggest a SmokeShack, a burger with pepper relish, apple smoked bacon and cheese. I loved it but given how savory I expected the burger to be I also ordered a float—a Purple Cow Float in particular, which is similar to a root beer float, but with a substitution of the root beer with grape soda. It was a welcome treat for my persnickety sweet tooth and cut right through the richness of the bacon and beef of the burger.

We also took a tour of the Aramark-run kitchens within the Student Union SU on the UNLV campus. The kitchen is used by multiple quick service stations from Taco Bell to Metro Pizza. Chef Jeremy met with us outside of the kitchen and led us inside after a short talk. As we walked in I noticed how simple the kitchen was for how many types of food that are served from it. The food storage was interesting in that each specific business had specific storage procedure, which lead to a hectic but orderly appearance. We then headed upstairs to understand the set-up used for banquets and similar events. There was a beautiful hallway lined with chairs which just seemed to stretch on forever. The hallway skirted around the banquet hall. This is one I have visited many a time but never realized it had a whole other side to it. It was really eye opening and entertaining to see how these events are put on.

The upcoming month we have a shorter list of planned activities than usual as a result of a long week of final exams that demands our time and focus. We have a few things set in stone for the Epicurean Club: a Culinary tasting for our student body, a myriad of carbonated fruit and a tour of a few of the Luxor restaurants before a trip to see the Blue Man Group.