Cornell students chose Moe’s Southwest Grill as their favorite late-night eatery last Friday at the fifth annual Battle of the Late Night Foods at Willard Straight Hall.
The Class Councils hosted the event, with CUTonight providing partial funding. Alongside members of the Class Councils, members of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity volunteered for the event.
This year’s theme was international cuisine. Students sampled varieties of snacks, including chicken dumplings from Apollo, mini burritos from last year’s winner, That Burrito Place and mini sub sandwiches from Jimmy John’s. Other participating restaurants were Insomnia Cookies, DP Dough, Taste of Thai, The Connection, Jack’s Grill and Domino’s Pizza.
[img_assist|nid=35159|title=Show me the food|desc=Brian Lo ’11 hands out food at the 5th Annual Battle of the Late Night Foods in the Straight on Friday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Though pulled pork sandwiches from Jack’s Grill were incredibly popular, attendees were most impressed with the nacho chips from Moe’s, which came with cheese, chicken, beef, salsa and other condiments.
Diana Hidalgo ’12, decided she would go when she “heard there was free food.” Hidalgo was among the 3,000 students who attended the event — a much greater turnout than the 1,000 expected — according to according to David Bell, program coordinator for the Student Activities Office.
Not only were students well fed, but a variety of entertainers added to the international theme, with performances by Slope Radio, Cornell Raas, Yamatai, Klezmer Ensemble, Uhuru Kuumba, Shimtah, Sabor Latino and more. In addition, student groups like Cover Africa, AISEC and the Cornell Thai Association were in attendance, advertising their organizations and offering food samples of their own.
The evening also had a philanthropic side. Though entrance was free, students were encouraged to make a $2 donation to the HARIR Education and Welfare Trust, the charity of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. Started ten years ago by the aunt of fraternity member Jaser Faruq ’11, HARIR takes child laborers in Bangalore out of poor working conditions and places them in local schools.
Faruq, who had worked for the charity in Bangalore, was pleased that Cornellians showed so much support for the cause.
With money earned from the event going to charity, funding for the food at the event came from CUTonight, an on- campus organization that funds late-night activities for students, and the Class Councils, which are funded through the Student Activity Fee. Deals are often cut with participating vendors. According to David DyTang ’12 class council member, the Class Councils offered to pay each vendor for half of the food provided if the vendor would donate the other half free of charge.
While most vendors stuck to such an agreement, some donated more than necessary. Jeff Legg, an owner of Jimmy John’s and a first-time vendor at the event, donated all of the sandwiches.
“It’s great marketing exposure,” Legg explained.
Jeff Mayer, a manager from That Burrito Place, which he said donated “quite a bit of food,” echoed Legg’s sentiments.
“It’s a good chance to give back to people who order from us in Collegetown, and to get exposure to new faces that might order from us in the future,” he said.
Other vendors did not incur their costs, instead charging the University.
Vendors also exuded a competitive spirit. Mayer was sure to mention That Burrito Place’s desire to repeat as student favorite. In fact, a few years back, competition was so intense that the prize, a silver plate, was stolen from then winner D.P. Dough. Nowadays a plaque, which can be safely secured onto a wall, is presented to the winner.
Attendees also voiced their enjoyment of alternative diet options.
“I really appreciated the vegetarian friendly-options,” remarked Jean Van Buren ’12.
Alexandra Meier ’11, a volunteer at the event, saw this year as an improvement from last year.
“There were definitely a lot more performances this year, and bigger servings,” Meier said.
While Moe’s Southwest Grill won this round, restaurants will be able to duke it out again next year in the sixth round of the Battle of the Late Night Foods.
Jeff Katz ’10, president of the 2010 Class Council, hopes that “everyone comes back next year.”