The Finest Feast On Campus

Bellowing from the depths of Monte Cristo Hall, a frenzied summoning of culinary deliciousness was taking place. Like a plume of spice and smoke, the spellbinding scent of Eastern European cooking spewed out from the kitchen of Room 111 and swept through the whole building.

A club member preparing “Olivye” (pronounced “Uh-Liv-Yeh”), an Eastern European potato salad dish, that is prepared with ham, carrots, peas, and pickles. (Gerard Millman)

On Thursday, April 28, EvCC’s Community Kitchen Club hosted their Ukrainian Spring Dinner: an open invitation event where club members prepared a myriad of Ukrainian dishes for a communal feast. The evening’s menu included Pelmeni (beef dumplings), Borscht (beet soup), Pampushky (Ukrainian garlic bread), Sochniki (sweet cheese cookies), Olivye (potato salad), and Kompot (traditional Ukrainian fruit drink).

15 students, faculty members, and even a few parents, clamored around the spacious kitchen, frantically working together to prepare plenty of food for everyone to enjoy. A $5 donation and a helping-hand earned you a spot at the table, where everyone gathered together to gobble down their hard-earned meal. Chatter, laughter, and merriment filled the air as drinks were poured, food was served, friends were made, and stories were shared.

Student club member Rachel Zook joined the Community Kitchen Club in Spring quarter, and had helped plan for the Ukrainian Spring Dinner over the few weeks before the event. When asked about her favorite part of the Ukrainian Spring Dinner, she replied:

“It’s hard to pinpoint because there was so much going on all at once… What I love about this club and doing this is having us all doing it together. I saw lots of different people moving around and working on different things, and just being available and getting in there on what was needed and everyone was pulled in and being used and it was beautiful.” – Rachel Zook

The Community Kitchen Club began in 2018, when an EvCC student proposed to the current Academic Advisor, Laura Wild, that such a club should exist. “It [community dinners] used to be twice a quarter, but then with the pandemic that shut us down. So, in the Fall we did one dinner, and this is our first dinner for Spring Quarter. We didn’t do any dinners for Winter Quarter because of the surge we had [of] Omicron, so we decided it was probably not best to bring people together” said Wild.

According to the Community Kitchen Club: Ukrainian Spring Dinner webpage on the EvCC website, “[The] purpose of the Community Kitchen Club is to promote home cooking and community building with an emphasis on inclusion, sustainability, and healthful eating.” When asked what she would like students to take away from this experience, Wild says: “I want them to enjoy preparing food so that they want to do it. Oftentimes there’s a lot of joy that happens when we cook together, so if you have a good time you’re more likely to want to do it.”

The kitchen in Room 111 of Monte Cristo Hall was packed with members working together to prepare a Ukranian Feast. (Gerard Millman)

Of course none of this would have happened without weeks of preparation on the part of the club members, who meet every Thursday. “The goal of the meetings is to, as a group, talk over the plan for the meal. We have a few weeks to prepare; week one or two, we will decide on what the theme will be. Then, we’ll collaborate on recipes, we will talk over who will do the shopping… the meetings are essentially for planning” says Zook.

The Community Kitchen Club is currently planning another dinner for the end of Spring Quarter, and welcomes any student who is interested in helping them prepare. To learn more about how you can get involved, email Laura Wild at [email protected] for more information.