International food show features almost 30 dishes

Kie Rokkenguchi, junior communication student, serves community member Shawn Robertson Nikujyaga, which is a Japanese dish made up of beef, potatoes, onions, carrots and more. (Photo by Erin Wides/ Features Editor)

Students, faculty and community members got a taste of different cultures without having to leave town.

On Sunday, the International Student Organization hosted more than 150 guests for the International Student Food Show. Suzanne Beck, an ISO advisor, said the food show has been going on for 50 to 60 years.

The buffet-style dinner showcased nearly 30 dishes from nine different countries: India, Japan, South Korea, Tunisia, Spain, Nepal, Malaysia, Vietnam and Pakistan.

The food was prepared by the students through a partnership with Sodexo in the Union kitchen.

“They started coming about 9:30 a.m. this morning,” said Phil Hawkins, district executive chef with Sodexo. “They staggered in through the day. Some came early, left and came back. Some just kind of stayed the entire day.”

This event takes months of planning to be successful.

“We put a call out for recipes and students who wanted to cook,” Beck said. “We do that about two months out so that Sodexo has time to buy the ingredients.”

Because Warrensburg is a small town, not all the ingredients could be found here.

“I was able to get quite a bit of stuff from our broadline purveyor, Sysco,” said Hawkins. “I took two trips up to Kansas City and hit Indian markets and Asian markets.”

Beck said the partnership is unique because of the freedom the students get.

“Sodexo purchases all the ingredients and then sets up a timeframe when the students can cook the food,” Beck said. “The students do all the preparations and are overseen by Sodexo chefs.”

Eunah Kim, senior communication student, was serving food from South Korea.

“We are from South Korea and we made Korean noodles, kimbab, made of white rice and vegetables,” she said.

Kim said she was excited for the night and happy to introduce her country’s food to Warrensburg.

There were a variety of guests. One was geoscience professor Sandy Zellers, who has been attending every year since 2003.

“This year is very different and I do like what they’ve done,” Zellers said. “They’ve provided a menu that says what is in each dish.”

As a professor, she said it is great to see students putting on the event.

“I think it’s great. It shows initiative, creativity,” Zellers said. “Every year it seems a little different and I think that reflects the leadership of ISO. I wish they had it every semester and not just in the fall.”

Warrensburg residents were not the only ones in attendance. Bekki Walsh traveled 45 minutes with 13 middle school students.

Walsh is a social studies teacher in the Strasburg school district and graduated from UCM.

“When I was here at school I was in a class and the assignment was to work with a group of students from the international organization,” Walsh said. “That is the first time I heard of the food and culture show they do.”

Part of Walsh’s curriculum is world geography. She said she talks a lot about other cultures.

She started attending the food show when she began teaching, 17 years ago.

“So I started bringing kids every year,” Walsh said. “There was kind of a gap for about seven years, but this is the first year back.”

Walsh said many of the middle school students had never experienced anything like this.

“A lot of these kids have never been to an international restaurant,” Walsh said.

Her students were taking pictures and talking about the tastes, and how some dishes were not as spicy as they thought and how good dishes were.

“I love it –– the fact that they still do it every year,” Walsh said. “I get a hold of Suzanne come the end of September and I’m like, ‘When is it this year?’”

Hawkins said the event was received well by those who attended.

“The public is very happy with everything and the students are just ecstatic,” Hawkins said. “They had a great time and are very proud of the food they produced, and they should be.”

Beck said it’s one of the biggest events that ISO puts on and that it has a way of bringing the UCM and Warrensburg community together.

“I think it’s a very important part of what the international students here on campus offer,” Beck said. “Food brings everyone together. We all need nutrition. We all need food.”

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