Photo credit: Nicholas Bilt

It has been a tough couple of months. In March, right before spring break, everything was starting to change and universities around the world were telling students after spring break the schools were switching all classes to online. As I got home for spring break the news broke UNLV switched all classes for the rest of the spring semester to online and remote learning. I do not think I need to say that that changed all of Epicurean’s plans for the semester.

Many students have switched to all online and remote learning. The difference between an online and remote class is that a remote class still keeps a lecture part to the class with digital zoom classes. Needless to say, our members are all over the world at the moment. We may not be able to meet in person but that will not slow us down.

Part of being in the hospitality industry is being able to think on your feet, being able to find a different and creative solution to a problem. The Epicurean leadership board has thought of many different ways to help engage our current group of members and gauge the interest of incoming hospitality freshmen to help foster an encouraging and friendly environment for both professional and personal growth and education on hospitality and cuisine. Not only that, but also to create a social network for our members. College can be a tough time and a hard transition period and it is not getting any easier with the current circumstances, so we think that as a group maybe we can make that a little bit easier for our members. 

Epicurean Society will be launching a greater online presence and building a strong community for our members to communicate. Our general meetings will be moved to Zoom and we have some plans for our new meeting format. 

A big thing we have planned for our Zoom meetings is guest speakers: industry professionals from restaurants, hotels and other culinary arts and hospitality sectors. This was a very difficult task as our meetings were at 4:00 p.m. on a Tuesday and that could be a difficult time for people to slip away from their positions for an hour or two to make a trip to UNLV’s campus. Now that all our meetings are over Zoom all you need is a computer with a camera and 30 to 40 minutes of free time. And, it is easier for guest speakers to come to our meetings and educate us on the part of the industry they are from and give us a few tips on working in the industry. 

The other thing we want to do for our meetings is communal cooking, or for our members living on campus, dorm room cuisine. We do have members living on campus in the dorms and sometimes you need to have a break from dining commons food and have a nice home cooked meal. So, we are developing some cooking classes for dorm room cooking, recipes that will be at the most $10 to make that are easily done with minimal space in a microwave. We would send out the ingredient list beforehand and then at the meeting do a step-by-step walkthrough of the dish. We would also do cooking classes not specific to dorm room cuisine since some of our members will still be cooking at home, and we will throw in some challenging recipes to keep our members growing. The goal with our cooking classes is to expand our members’ understanding and knowledge of food, as well as get them to think of food in more creative ways. 

A way we are building our community outside of our Zoom meetings is our Epicurean GroupMe, which is open to all of our members. For those who do not know what GroupMe is, it is a group messaging program run by Microsoft. We are using it as a way to communicate with our members in a quick fashion if needed, and is a way for our members to contact each other for support, such as help with our hospitality classes. We may be far apart, but we aim to build a stronger and closer community. 

Our social media manager Christina Yuan has been working to expand our social media presence, and we are interacting more with our members on social media. One thing we are starting to do is repost our members’ food, which is exposing the different cuisines of our followers and showing what our members are making and what food they like. 

Even though we cannot be in the same room and we are not sure how long it will be till we can, we at UNLV’s Epicurean Society plan on growing and strengthening our community. Here’s to a great fall semester!