Photo Credit: Nicholas Bilt

Since the semester started a bit has happened. UNLV hosted a virtual involvement fair on September 2. In order to increase our online presence and interaction, on day one, we posted the first episode of our new Instagram series. This series is known as Dorm Chef, and we wanted to reach out to our members who are living in the dorms and have limited equipment to make food. So, for the first Tuesday of this month, I will be posting a short 15 second (or less) video on Instagram making a dish that could be made by a college student with limited budget and equipment. I have challenged myself to try and only use a mug, fork/spoon and microwave, college cuisine at its finest. When developing Dorm Chef, the goal was not just to have digital content to keep up the presence of Epicurean on social media, but to inspire our members. We want to encourage creativity with our general members, inspiring others to try and see what they can do with limited equipment and keeping spending down, or make the dishes we post and modify it and post what they make on Instagram. We want to expand their knowledge and experience with food. Dorm Chef’s first episode was mac n’ cheese in a mug. We wanted something that was easy to make, modify and get creative with. We are still discussing and testing next month’s dish. All I can say now about it is that it will be “pretty sweet,” and also that it’s made in a mug.

On Thursday, September 15, we had our first general Epicurean meeting over Zoom and it was great! There were some familiar faces from last year, some people I knew from last year who are joining for the first time, and tons of new students. We were a little nervous for our turnout. All student organizations have been on edge about attendance so we were prepared for the worst (e.g., all seven of us on leadership talking to 3 students), but at a point on the Zoom web conference, we looked at the guest count and saw we had about 60 people on. The switch to digital meeting format was a grand success, as we had one of the biggest meeting turnouts in the history of the club. This meeting functioned as an intro to the leadership board and what we do in the club under normal circumstances, such as restaurant tours and outings, and our end of the year pop-up. Then we transitioned into what we are doing now, with virtual Zoom socials, guest speakers, Dorm Chef, EpiCuisine and virtual watch parties. Then we did a Kahoot, which is an online group quiz activity, to make sure everyone was paying attention. The prize was a $10 Amazon gift card, so the competition got pretty heated at some points. We also had a drawing for everyone who came to the meeting for another $10 Amazon gift card. The first virtual meeting of the fall semester 2020 was a great success. 

Next meeting, we are having our first EpiCuisine, hosted by Alejandro Sandoval. He will be doing a cooking demo for chicken carbonara with caprese salad. With EpiCuisine, we are planning on it to be a fun hangout for our members. Sit back, relax and watch the cooking demonstration, or follow along with it. We are releasing the ingredient list and a recipe before the meeting in case they want to follow along at home. We want to make this event educational, however we want to make sure it is still a social event and that our members are having fun with this event. We plan on making EpiCuisine a monthly event, each month with a different guest, most likely keeping it a student-led cooking tutorial, to show off different styles of cuisines and different culinary techniques. In addition, the series will introduce people to new flavors and potentially new foods all together. 

For our future meetings, we are figuring out some ice breakers we can do online so we can learn more about each other. Emphasis will be on pushing the more social aspects of our organization, providing a way for people to socialize since we do not have the restaurant outings. We are planning a food debate, calling it “Epicurean’s Culinary Clash,” or “Crash,” as we are still debating the name. This will be a fun and friendly activity for our members to talk about food. We will be discussing topics like does pineapple belong on pizza, is a hot dog a sandwich and is cereal a salad. I know that last one sounds, and is crazy, but I knew some people in high school who had pretty convincing arguments about that one. We are also working out scheduling with a guest speaker. Things are looking bright for the future of Epicurean for this unconventional semester.