Arts & Culture

Student group unites food enthusiasts through eating, writing

Brown Culinary Palate has evolved from teaching group to blog and restaurant exploration club

Contributing Writer
Monday, March 11, 2013

While some may consider concocting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich at the Sharpe Refectory a substantial culinary feat, the members of Brown Culinary Palate take gastronomic endeavors further than the average college student. With restaurant excursions and a blog featuring a myriad of dorm-appropriate recipes, the group brings together students who love to cook, write and talk about food.

Agnus Ning ’15 serves as co-president of the club, which was founded two years ago and revived this fall. He wrote in an email to The Herald that he sees the club meshing well with Brown students’ vast intellectual curiosities.

The Culinary Palate “is another opportunity for people to explore their curiosities and interests, specifically with regards to food,” Ning wrote.

Former president and founder Flora Ko ’12 said that in the beginning, the club’s purposes were to teach the student body the basics of cooking, exchange recipes from different cultures and inform students of the importance of eating sustainably. The club has now adopted a slightly different mission by exploring new ways to express students’ love for cooking.

“I’m glad the current (Culinary Palate) officers are trying new approaches to tailor the club to meet their interests,” Ko said. “The change indicates that the club is growing and that the members are working hard to make (the club) better.”

One of these new approaches is visiting local restaurants, both on College Hill and downtown. Lily Halpern ’16, who serves as a restaurant coordinator, helps decide the locations of the club’s monthly restaurant trips. She said the Culinary Palate is an informative and fun way to escape the monotony of on-campus eating, as well as to discover new places to dine out.

“Closer to campus, I think New Rivers and Duck and Bunny are great finds,” Halpern said.

The club also runs a blog, founded by Noni Wang ’13, which spotlights recipes, food history and food science. Originally, the blog was used to document only the club’s events but has since grown to cover much more.

“I meet with my assistant editor, Margaret, during the first week of every month, and we assign a theme for that month,” Wang said. “The writers have a lot of freedom. We don’t want our writers to be constrained, and I learn so much from every post submitted to us.”

One of her favorite posts featured phallic-shaped foods as part of the Culinary Palate’s Valentine’s Day coverage, which Wang said speaks to the open-mindedness of the club’s members.

Currently, the blog has more than 100 followers and recently received positive feedback from a senior food stylist at the Food Network, Ning wrote.

“The fact that someone from the Food Network complimented our blog was definitely something to be proud of,” he wrote.

The Culinary Palate is also in the process of pursuing categorization as a club by the Undergraduate Finance Board and hopes to plan more events on campus as soon as this process is complete, said Eric Chen ’15, the club’s events coordinator. Chen said members have already found a faculty sponsor and hope to gain additional money through the Late Night Fund. Last year, the group sponsored a “Ratatouille” movie night and is in the process of planning another culinary-themed movie and food night.