Food aficionados start club chapter

by Min Kyung Jeon | 2/9/14 8:19pm

Students dipped different snacks and fruits into a chocolate fountain and savored various chocolate bars, including milk chocolate with caramel and sea salt, on Monday at Spooning with Chocolate, the inaugural event of Dartmouth’s new Spoon University chapter. Participants also passed around chocolate bars donated by the Co-op Food Store for a tasting game that taught them to assess quality based on appearance, aroma, snap, mouthfeel and flavor.

The chapter produces an online publication about gourmet food and food-related happenings on campus. They will also host events focused on education and appreciation of gourmet foods, aiming to create a food-centric community on campus, chapter co-president Victoria Li ’16 said.

Li, who serves as editor-in-chief of the chapter’s website, said she stumbled upon Spoon University’s national website last summer and began considering the idea of creating a similar campus group. Diksha Gautham ’15, a co-president and the group’s business director, said she decided to collaborate with Li after reading the plans for the program on Li’s LinkedIn page.

Li and Gautham first considered founding a student club separate from Spoon University but decided that the national organization’s network of colleges would be a significant benefit, Gautham said.

The group, recognized by the Council on Student Organizations, received COSO funding for the chocolate event. The chapter does not receive funding from the national Spoon University organization, Li said in an email.

In the future, the group hopes to host talks with local chefs and behind-the-scenes events in Hanover restaurants and Dartmouth Dining Services locations. They will also invite alumni working in the food industry, like the Boloco CEO, to give presentations, and they hope to collaborate other food-related groups on campus, Gautham said.

The group is the latest in a string of food-focused student organizations. The Dartmouth Coffee Club began last fall, and Ecovores, a dinner club that raises awareness about locally sourced food, was founded by Cristina Pellegrini ’11 during her time at the College.

Last fall, Li and Gautham received about 200 responses to a preliminary survey that gauged student interest. They then solicited applications, including writing samples and photography portfolios to fill executive positions on editorial and business teams.

Though the co-founders established the executive board by the beginning of winter term, Li said that the group is still accepting new members to attend and assist with future events, provide input at executive meetings and write guest articles for the Dartmouth chapter’s website, which launched last Saturday.

Within 10 minutes of sending a campus-wide email about the chocolate event, Gautham said she received responses filling the 30 available spaces. An additional 20 students requested spots on the waiting list.

At the event, the executive members screened a brief video on the chocolate-making process as well as the uses and benefits of chocolate.

“Look at it, see what it feels like and then put it in your mouth,” executive member Jordan Kastrinsky ’16 said. “Don’t scarf it down right away — feel it.”

Ellen Wu ’15, who attended Sunday’s Spooning with Chocolate event in the Paganucci Lounge, said she liked how the executive members facilitated a conversation about rating the different types of chocolate.

Kristen Flint ’14 said she would be interested in attending future Spoon University programs. She said she enjoyed tasting different types of chocolate and appreciated the event’s educational value.

The national Spoon University directors helped found the Dartmouth group, providing advice on organizing events and connecting with other chapters, Li said.

Li said the editorial team hopes to transform the chapter’s website into a hub of resources for all food-related issues and events on campus. Currently, the website features articles about Amarna undergraduate society’s termly wine and cheese party and a Jan. 31 iron chef competition between Phi Tau and Alpha Theta fraternities.

Executive member Joon Cho ’17 said he joined the group because of his interest in fine food and its effects on the human body.

“A lot of the food-related groups are really focused on food from a social justice perspective,” Cho said. “And that’s great, but I was looking for just a food society.”