May 2, 2005

Giant Hors D'oeuvre Sets Guinness Record

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3,500 spring roll wrappers. 400 pounds of vermicelli noodles. 250 pounds each of carrots and cucumbers. 80 pounds of lettuce. These were the makings of the world’s longest spring roll, 400 meters or 1,315 feet in length, constructed in Barton Hall by students in Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration on Saturday. The event, “Roll for Relief” (R4R), set a new Guinness world record while raising money for tsunami relief efforts.

Donning chefs whites and aprons which read “Let Love Roll,” about 100 volunteer ‘rollers’ raised $20,000 for the Tzu Chi Foundation’s relief work in South East Asia for the victims of the December 2004 tsunami. Contributions came from hotel school alumni, faculty and students, and $5 donations for individually-sized portions of the spring roll. The event was planned by Garnie Nygren ’05 and Howard Ho ’05.

To earn a place in the Guinness book, all preparations for the spring roll had to be done the day of the event.

“We started prepping at eight this morning,” said Monica Mayo ’07. “The carrots and lettuce were donated shredded, but we still had the cucumbers and cilantro to prepare. We also had to get the noodles down to temperature,” as the department of health requires that food be served no warmer than 40 degrees.

Participants worked in an assembly line to create the roll: one person on each team would soak the rice paper; the next would lay it down on the table; another person would put in the filling; someone else would spray the filling to keep it moist — otherwise the roll would not stick– and the last person would roll the roll — about one inch wide — inside Saran wrap for sanitary keeping.

Teams started at the corners of the indoor track in Barton, and rolled until they met each other in the middle. The process of rolling took about two hours.

Surveyor Robert Chiang, a civil engineering designer, was on the scene to confirm that the spring roll was the world’s biggest.

To do so, “I just used a very accurate tape measure,” Chiang said. “This is a first for me,” he added.

After the roll had been measured, it had to be weighed. Ben Jones ’05, chef of the spring roll, described how this was to be done: “we had to cut it, bring it on trays to the hotel school, weigh it, and then bring it back for serving.”

An official from the health department was present, taking the temperatures of all spring roll ingredients.

Before deciding on a final recipe, Ho and Nygren worked with Chef Robert White to test out different plans.

“We did a few dry runs. We weighed, measured, and timed each. We built 10-foot rolls in the food lab, and earlier this week we built a 50-foot roll. We also brought in the leaders of each team so they could get an idea of proportion size,” White said.

Wegmans provided all of the ingredients for R4R.

“Wegmans had already donated at least a million dollars in tsunami relief when the letter requesting our help came to me … we donated between $2,500 and $3,000 worth of produce … I love this event,” said Bob Langkammerer M.M.H. ’90, regional executive chef at Wegmans.

First bites were awarded to the top student and faculty fundraiser, Annie Chen ’05 and Edward Evans, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship.

All uneaten portions of the spring roll were distributed to volunteers.

R4R is taking donations through May 20. Checks are to be make out to Cornell Hotel Society. Ho and Nygren were very pleased with R4R.

“We had three goals going into this: to build something that was the world’s biggest, to raise money, and to unite the Hotel School…we’re beyond happy,” Nygren said.

Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun News Editor