photos by Justin Leung, Deanna Wong, Hanna Min and Leah Love

Tabling. Flyers. Posters. Club Representatives...Involvement Fair, which took place on January 24th, is every UNLV organization’s opportunity to market and develop their member base. Students are able to connect with the three-hundred and fifty registered student organizations, university departments and non-profit organizations. 

As one of the most widely attended events at UNLV, Involvement Fair symbolizes the beginning of a new semester as the schools’ organizations have developed new calendars, agendas and activities.

Epicurean Society’s new leadership team skyrocketed the organization’s member recruitment beyond expectation: fifteen new members joined Epicurean Society since our participation in the fair. The boost of member count resulted from our new business cards and sharing our self-created dishes with the school community. 

We promoted our message of food appreciation by speaking to students passing by our table while offering samples of our mandarin orange pound cake, candied walnut parfait, beet chips seasoned with rosemary and lemon zest and a mouthwatering focaccia bread with basil, Thai pesto spread with pistachios on top.

Furthermore, another enticing aspect of Epicurean Society is that this semester our general member meetings take place within the Executive Kitchen on the fourth floor of the new Hospitality Hall. Taking advantage of a never before seen environment and brand-new equipment, our first meeting consisted of a brief kitchen tour and club introductions.

The meeting on February 7th was a fascinating opportunity for our organization to visit Rebel Grounds, which is a student run, café business on the first floor of the new hospitality building. 

We were greeted by Kevin Ng, former Epicurean Society president and current café manager. He introduced us to the Cookie Monster; their three specialty drinks: PB and Java, the Coco Caramel Latte; and Rebel Rush, and an off-menu item which was made with his own strategy. Kevin first set down loaves of bread onto a hotel pan and spread a crème brûlée butter on each. He proceeded to show us there are two approaches to melt the butter on the bread: using a normal cooking blow torch or toasting it in the oven. The final step would be to add sugar on top.

Rebel Grounds was only the first step into our fresh, new start to the semester. Our next organization activity was visiting Fresh52 Farmer’s Market on Sunday morning, February 11th. Introducing ourselves to vendors who create and specialize in their own crafts was a new focus of our organization from last semester.

She Bakes, our first stop through the farmer’s market, is a bakery that specializes in gluten-free, preservative-free and vegan, protein bars, cookies and other naturally baked foods. Their goal is to maintain low costs while creating high quality goods in order to promote healthier life eating habits. 

Making our way down the outside market, a member decided to sample some goods from Besty Bites Handcrafted Cheese Roll; this is a business that has segmented itself away from the United States’ standard bakery business. Instead of making cakes, cookies or other pastries, Besty Bites specializes in the cheese roll, which comes from a traditional Brazilian recipe started by slaves in the early-eighteenth century; they would make bread rolls from the cassava or yucca root.

The modern-day method of making cheese rolls is adding milk and cheese to the tapioca roll. However, outsourcing and innovation has led to an expansive menu for the business. Members of Epicurean Society were able to sample their Feta Cheese, Mozzarella Cheese, Garlic and Herbs and Chipotle flavors.

Not only were the options at the farmer’s market healthy and locally grown, products came in package deals and the prices were affordable, especially to those looking to change their diet.

The school days prior to our Valentine’s Day sale on the 14th were engulfed with event preparation such as purchasing ingredients, preparing our products as well as pricing them to meet the demand. Epicurean Society was selling dark, milk and white chocolate strawberries for $2.50, variety bags tied by a thin strip of ribbon and filled with chocolate covered pretzels; popcorn for $4.00; and bacon roses with brown sugar sprinkled on top for $2.00. During our sale, we were stationed outside the Hospitality Hall and inside the Student Union. The two locations were suitable for our cause in promoting love for food and those around us. Couples, friends, classmates and even faculty members purchased from us to share with each other, demonstrating the holiday spirit.

Spring semester has barely started and the direction of the organization, expressed in the last two months, has been incredible. Epicurean Society resumes its invitation to all local members of the community as we continue through the semester with our upcoming club-run Boba milk tea bar, and a Hawaiian-themed party.