February 3, 2003

C.U. Community Brings in Chinese New Year of Ram

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Last Friday, Cornell Dining served up its fifth annual Chinese New Year’s dinner with live entertainment, new foods, and hungry crowds. Offering traditional New Year’s fare, this year’s Year of the Ram had its largest turnout ever, with about 2,000 people in attendance. Events included a traditional lion dance, DJs with karaoke, martial arts demonstrations and a violin performance.

“It’s eatertainment,” said Marie Hedrick, campus life marketing and communications manager.

“The chefs work with students to make sure the dishes are authentic,” Hedrick said. Student volunteers have been essential to the event’s success since the beginning. Groups such as the Asian Pacific-Islander Student Union (CAPSU), the Filipino Association at Cornell, the Cornell Martial Arts Club, plus Oakenshield’s Chef Brian Roberts and Chef Hsi Wang were all instrumental in making the event a success.

“We kept to a traditional Chinese New Year’s menu, but we’ve added a few new things from last year, like the Ho Fun noodles,” Chef Brian Roberts said.

Some other specialties this year included the jellyfish salad, the roast suckling pig and the peking duck. The volume of food needed to feed this many people was slightly shocking to some of the volunteers.

“We had 90 ducks,” David Zhou ’05 of CAPSU said. CAPSU members were involved in all parts of the event, including publicity, food selection, preparation, serving, and even clean-up.

Victor Ying ’03 added to the entertainment with a Tai Chi demonstration. He has been performing at the dinner since his freshman year.

“I didn’t feel like waiting in line for the food, so it was just for fun,” Ying said.

Due to the event’s popularity, it almost always causes long lines and heavy crowds, on average between a 30-45 minute wait for food.

“[Chinese New Year’s] brings a lot of people out and you even meet people waiting in line,” said Lisa Wang ’05.

This year, “to accommodate students, both the Ivy Room and Oakenshield’s were opened, with the same menu on each side,” said Bill McNamara, operations manager of Oakenshield’s.

Another improvement over last year was that the dinner price for those not on meal plan was lower than the price of a regular meal, not that of a special event meal like Cross Country Gourmet. One of the challenges is to try to open these events up to the entire Cornell community.

“It’s hard to break the perception that the dining halls are just for students. We want to get more faculty and students interacting outside the classroom,” Hedrick said.

“Every year this gets bigger and bigger, but we just want to keep up with what our customers want,” he added.

Archived article by Amber Parker