Students take a bite out of the restaurant industry at the Epicurean Club
From beer tastings to restaurant outings to community outreach, UNLV’s Epicurean Club gives students the chance to explore the culinary arts and restaurant management.
The Hotel College at UNLV does not put a heavy focus on teaching students all of the intricacies found in the food and beverage industry of Las Vegas.
In UNLV’s early days there was a demand for a deeper knowledge of cuisine and restaurant operations, and so in 1978, a group of culinary leaders founded the Epicurean Club. Al Izzolo is the current advisor and has been for years.
The overall mission of the Epicurean Club is to add to the college experience, not only for hotel students, but all of those interested in food. The Epicurean Club takes students to different restaurants throughout the city about one to three times per month.
Every trip is centered around a different cuisine, allowing students to expand their palates and feed their epicurean drive to try new things.
The monthly meals are also not too hard on the average college student’s wallet, costing about twenty dollars for a three course meal.
The secret behind the discounted food rate lies in the knowledge and skill sets that are gained throughout one’s journey in the Epicurean Club.
Club members arrange the deals for each restaurant by honing in on their networking capabilities, as well as event planning and management skills. All of these skills make up the backbone of the hospitality industry.
“The underlying theme is the study of food and commercial food operations, but the benefit for the students is the preliminary chance to develop management skills, as it encourages involvement,” said Izzolo.
The Epicurean Club gets students involved in the planning and execution of different events including everything from the production of chocolate dipped strawberries for Valentine’s Day to a food and beer tasting.
Students have the option to decide whether they would like to partake in the culinary or the managerial side of production.
For example, the Epicurean Club hosted a Thanksgiving meal last semester free of charge for students living in the dorms, and those who could not make it home to celebrate with family.
They teamed up with the Beverage Club over spring break to recreate the success of their fall food and beer pairing with an American-themed beer pairing dubbed “Brews and Bites.”
The bite-sized morsels and desserts were all prepared using the beer that would be complimenting them.
The official menu consisted of citrus grilled shrimp, vichyssoise, or creamy potato leek soup, beer sliders made with beer buns, beer battered fried pickles, beer braised short ribs, and mini beer cupcakes.
The goal of one of the lead chefs on the project, Hamilton Tran, was “to ensure that the event goes smoothly and to lead everyone well, as [he] will soon be president of the club.”
Tran believes that events like “Brews and Bites” allow students to showcase their talents and give more exposure to the food and beverage industry.
The family-like atmosphere of the Epicurean Club allows for comfortable growth and development of ideas and skills.
The skills offered by the club make for great resume-builders and applications for scholarships. Epicurean Club is sponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association (IFSEA), which offers scholarships, as well as fully funded trips to industry conferences that promote the growth of all students.