Office of the Chancellor

Conversation Kitchen

Conversation Kitchen

Presented in collaboration with the Department of Campus Recreation, Conversation Kitchen is a unique series of culinary workshops designed to explore the significant influence that food has in defining and shaping culture across the world. Each free workshop will focus on an area of the world undergoing conflict and transformation today. What is the role of food in mediating conflict, communicating values, solving problems, reflecting locale, and expressing our common humanity? Chef Jessica VanRoo, Campus Recreation culinary education director, will present a three-course menu with dishes from the region. Hosts representing the countries in question will be present during the workshop to discuss their food traditions and experiences. Participants will gain an understanding of different cultures by sharing a meal among friends.

joanie smithPhoto by Joanie Simon at Unsplash

2017-18 Schedule

Oct. 20, 2017: Foods of Syria and Turkey

A special Conversation Kitchen in honor of UCI’s membership in “Scholars at Risk,” an organization dedicated to housing scholars displaced by international conflict. Lunch served by Chef Jessica VanRoo.

Humanities Gateway Plaza and Humanities Gateway 1030

Lunch and Conversation: 12 p.m.

Followed by Middle Eastern music (12:45pm) and a talk by Kenyan novelist and UCI Distinguished Professor Ngugi Wa Thiong’o (1:30pm). 

Click here for event information

Nov. 2, 2017:  Ugandan Hip Hop

The complex flavors of Ugandan cuisine are influenced by the world.  Tribes throughout Uganda all have their unique flavors and cooking techniques.  Join us for lunch and explore the world's influence on the unique and flavorful cuisine of Uganda.

Anteater Test Kitchen at the Anteater Recreation Center (ARC)

Lunch and Conversation: 1-3:00 p.m.

Register here

Please join us later in the day for Shake the Dust, a film and discussion about hip hop in Uganda, 6:15-9:00 p.m., Crystal Cove Auditorium

Click here for event information

Nov. 21, 2017: Harvest Festival and the Real Thanksgiving

Do you know what was served at the original Thanksgiving dinner?  While a historian talks and the chef cooks, enjoy dinner with peers and learn what the Real Thanksgiving was all about.

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC 

Dinner and Conversation: 6-7:30 p.m.

Register here

Dec. 6, 2017: A Tamale-Filled Holiday

A tamale is not just the quick meal you can find on your street corner or that frozen thing wrapped in a corn husk that you can microwave for dinner.  There’s a story behind a tamale, and the traditions and stories behind the tamale are showcased during the holiday season.  Delve into the flavors, history, and techniques on how to bring tamales to your holiday season this year.

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation: 6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here

Jan. 17, 2018: Foods of Japan and Korea

Participants will delve into the world of rice, green tea, and fermented foods while observing the importance of presentation.

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation:  6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here

Feb. 15, 2018: Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year has different significance to different cultures around the world.  We will delve into how the Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year with food.

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation: 6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here

February 26:  "Conversation Through Food and Art: Public Murals in Northern Ireland" Luncheon Host, Professor Bill Rolston 

Pacific Ballroom C, UCI Student Center (reservation required ):

Lunch and Conversation with Sociology Professor Bill Rolston (University of Ulster) about the murals in Northern Ireland: 12-1:30 p.m.

Register Here

March 14, 2018: Foods of Pakistan and India

Two countries known for their robust flavors and liberal use of spice, all connected by the traditional naan bread and sweet tea.

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation:  6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here

April 4, 2018: Digital Extremism

An undergraduate seminar conducted by Dr. Donovan together with the UC Irvine Climate Council will provide undergraduates a more intimate setting to learn and discuss the alt right’s digital tools. This event will be aimed at undergraduates who want to understand the landscape of the use of digital media to spread disinformation and how to spot malicious content. It will also focus on how to reimagine digital civics.

European Americans think of potatoes being the traditional food of the Irish, perhaps because of the potato famines of the 19th Century, precipitating great migrations to America.  They think of tomato sauces with peppers with polenta as foods of Southern Italy.  However, potatoes, tomatoes, corn, and peppers are all foods from the New World, taken back to Europe after the European invasion of America by Columbus, Cortez, and Pizzaro.  The Alt-Right movement denigrates those peoples who gave us this food, as if these foods were always part of a superior European culture.  Moreover, when you dismiss the contributions of a people, it’s easy to discount any value that they may bring to the culture. 

Students will enjoy stew of potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, and beans, with cornbread, followed by a tofu chocolate pie for dessert.

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation:  6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here

April 26, 2018: International Street Tacos

Street foods have a long and rich history, today it has become a mainstay in urban culture, large cities and small towns alike. Thesmells and sounds from these vendors continue to tempt passersby on the street around the world. Quick, easy and delicious food served throughout the world will be shared with participants. From Hispanic street tacos to Chinese Fried noodles, come discover the flavors regions around the world have to share. 

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation:  6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here

May 9, 2018: Food and Faith

Ramadan and other religious celebrations honored through feast and fast.  Explore the influences religion has had on traditions of feasting and fasting practiced throughout the world.  We will explore Ramadan, Passover, and other religious holidays and the food and traditions associated with them.  

Sponsored by the Program in Religious Studies

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation:  6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here

June 6, 2018:  Taco Literacy: A Conversation Kitchen with Gustavo Arellano and Steve Alvarez

Come meet these two experts on the exciting world of tacos, which have crossed cultures and sparked new conversations among chefs, taco lovers, and the communities where they live and work. We will taste and compare Mexican and Korean tacos and learn more about foodways, food writing, and food studies.

Gustavo Arellano, author of Taco USA, and Steve Alvarez, designer of courses on taco literacy, will discuss the history of the taco over a festive menu featuring Mexican and Korean specialties.

Gustavo Arellano is author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America. He is the former publisher and editor of Orange County's alternative weekly OC Weekly, and the author of the column ¡Ask a Mexican!, which is syndicated nationally. Arellano has won numerous awards for the column, including the 2006 and 2008 Best Non-Political Column in a large-circulation weekly from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, the 2007 Presidents Award from the Los Angeles Press Club and an Impacto Award from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, and a 2008 Latino Spirit award from the California Latino Legislative Caucus.

Dr. Steven Alvarez is Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of the First-Year Writing Program at St. John's University. He specializes in literacy studies and bilingual education with a focus on Mexican immigrant communities. He is author of books Brokering Tareas: Mexican Immigrant Families Translanguaging Homework Literacies andCommunity Literacies en Confianza: Learning From Bilingual After-School Programs. He was born and raised in Safford, Arizona.  

Anteater Test Kitchen at the ARC

Dinner and Conversation:  6-7:30 p.m.

Register Here