Photos by Deanna Wong 

A seemingly long semester has at last touched the surface of a conclusion. Epicurean Society members have been building upon strong relationships and developing mental endurance throughout an eventful April. 

New chapters are opening in students’ lives; career discoveries, position acceptances and networking outlets buzz in the steadily rising temperature. This transition stage of the seasons is easily recognized by dry heat and a bustling Vegas Strip.

It was reminiscent of the fun environment; it was the catalyst for the coming months. A particular event which attracted approximately 4,000 people including guests, volunteers and staff: the 44th annual UNLVino, an event containing much influential and collaborative festivities.

The jubilant atmosphere coupled with the ideal, night weather resonated well with attendees of UNLVino. This left many individuals with the impression of an unforgettable night outside.

A student-managed event embodied the message and theme of nightlife that
Las Vegas promotes with such high attractiveness every day. “As the night went on, the live band performing gave it a party feel, while we walked around the open-air venue,” said Deanna Wong, co-president of Epicurean Society.

Nightlife is not just about enjoyment because it can be a learning experience as well.

“The most appealing aspect of the event was the variety of foods and drinks available. I had never seen so many different vendors in one place. It kind of felt like a mini trip around the world. There were Belgium beers, Japanese sake and wineries from various regions,” remarked Kimberly Verdin, co-president of Epicurean Society.

Guests of UNLVino were able to speak to and gain insight from celebrity chefs and wine experts. An open environment and inviting culture resulted in an event that connected families, friends, students and professionals. 

All kinds of vendors were handing out samples and conversing with guests about their business or company; however, the guest interactions were not the only triggers of strong responses. As the night air filled with aromas, the latter only made the food and drinks even more irresistible. 

“One thing I tasted that was a twist on a nostalgic classic was a filet mignon meatball and penne pasta. I kept on smelling pasta from a mile away and could not leave the night without having a bite of it,” Deanna added.

The UNLVino of this year had exceeded expectations for many individuals. Attendees, event staff, vendors and industry leaders were all mutually immersed in the event. “There were couples, families, company guests and a lot of people from UNLV there. After finishing with their stations, even vendors went out to explore what was offered,” Kimberly said.

However, involvement in hospitality, especially food and beverage, does not stop with just one event. 

An environment like UNLV prides itself on diversity and inclusiveness; Epicurean Society decided to own and promote the school’s culture with an event, while incorporating food and beverage appreciation. 

Our team decided to run a Hawaiian-themed party in Boyd Dining Hall and named it “Epicurean Society’s Hawaiian Night.” We also were able to join in partnership with another UNLV organization known as Beverage Management Club.

The food service operation was executed by Epicurean Society while all bar service was handled by the Beverage Club. Guests were able to experience a calm and adventurous dine-in experience: one which mimicked the student-run capstones regularly held in the same dining room.

Doors into Hawaiian Night officially opened for the community on April 18th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. 

The food menu consisted of three appetizers: fruit mix, hurricane popcorn and edamame; seven entrees: kalua pig, macaroni salad, spam musubi, lomi salmon, garlic shrimp, teriyaki chicken and rice; and lastly, three desserts: huapia, malasadas and pineapple sorbet.

For the alcoholic beverages, Jake Hicklin and I served the Passionfruit Swizzle, Seaside Sangria, Vacationer’s Grog and Virgin Mojitos. The non-alcoholic beverages were the guava and lilikoi passionfruit juice.

Students, myself included, have been counting down the days before summer vacation begins. With just a couple of weeks left in the spring semester, our reflection on the experiences this year continues to weigh heavier and heavier. We, as Epicurean Society, have had our direction established since the beginning of the year; however, we never could have expected to make the kinds of relationships and connections that we ended up having. 

With that being said, I would like to take the chance to thank Chef Mark Sandoval, all UNLVino staff, all professionals, celebrity chefs, wine experts and all other guests of UNLVino who attended and contributed to make the event spectacular. I would also like to thank Beverage Club for their agreement to collaborate with us as well as provide helping hands during our Hawaiian Night.

Our experiences are shaped by those around us every day and I appreciate all of you for your contributions to the industry.