Aífe McHugh sits down to talk Fresher’s Week, the future and, of course, food with the Food Soc Auditor Caelum Rosenkranz.
IF you haven’t already heard, UCD now has a Food Society and it is one society to watch. Officially recognised last semester, the Food Society came away from last year’s refreshers day with two hundred members. This was no mean feat for a new society with no promotions, no sponsorship, and no banner, but pales in comparison with the thousands who joined up in this semester’s Fresher’s tent.
Food Soc’s meteoric rise has been truly dazzling, and unexpected by even those behind the scenes. Sitting down with Caelum Rosenkranz, the auditor, there was discussion on what the Food Society has to offer potential members, and why it is that they’re biting.
“We weren’t expecting it,” said Rosenkranz, “we ordered 1,000 membership cards and thought that would do us for the week. They were gone by 1pm on Monday. We got an emergency overnight delivery of 500 more cards, and we were out again by lunchtime on Tuesday.”
To what can they attribute this success? Well, we all know college students like free things. Partnerships with Dublin eateries Camille Thai and Natural Bakery may have sweetened the deal for the new sign-ups. The society also embarked on a very successful social media campaign in the run up to Fresher’s week, promoting their Disco Brunch and Craft Beer Boiler Room.
The attendance at these events was overwhelming as the membership swelled. Not every society can fill Astra Hall at noon on a Wednesday. Their Disco Brunch saw 300 people descend on the venue for music and mimosas. Rosenkranz admits that it was a tough event to manage, and there was some criticism of the standard campus food that was served which did not meet expectations.
They grasped people’s attention with social media, and had a favourable placement in the Fresher’s tent, but Rosenkranz believes that the rise of Food Soc reflects something else, something which he has always suspected; “students care about food, and we’re limited … You can go to Centra for a chicken fillet roll, or you can go to the restaurant. People want to branch out a little. The catering on campus is grand but there is still this presumption that all students want to eat is chips and beans.”
But did this presumption hamstring the society in its development? “I was actually expecting to face a lot more barriers than we have,” said Rosenkranz, “everyone’s been very supportive. The only barrier we’ve faced so far was that we couldn’t use boiling water to keep food hot in the Fresher’s tent.” This then became irrelevant when the free Camille Thai curries were gone within about 20 minutes. He continues: “I’ve been amazed with the university’s response. They’ve been extremely welcoming thus far.”
However it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Food Soc. The first semester of the society was rocky, to say the least. “I wasn’t around for a lot of that,” admitted Rosenkranz. “Myself and my friend Andrew thought it would be great if UCD had a Food Society, but when we looked into it we found out that one had just been set up. We had our ideas and we really wanted to get involved. We approached [the founding committee] asking if they would be interested in merging with us, or doing a partnership or something,” but due to differences in vision, nothing came to fruition. What followed could be described as a bit of a muddle but when AGM season rolled around, Caelum Rosenkranz was voted in as the new auditor. They were ready for a revamp.
The society’s new vision is “to broaden the horizons of UCD students with regards to food,” and they have a full roster of events reflecting that goal. They’ve confirmed further collaborations with Natural Bakery and Camille Thai, as well as entering talks with favoured student restaurants such as Tolteca. Cookery classes, food entrepreneurial talks, and cooking demonstrations with guest chefs and guest restaurants are all coming down the provisional pipeline.
So what’s next for UCD’s rising star? “We’re still getting our heads around Fresher’s week. Over the course of this week, we’re going to really plan out what we intend to do.” One thing’s for sure, they mean to continue as much verve as they began. “And we’re going to have weekly coffee mornings on Wednesdays in the global lounge. We’ll have cakes, doughnuts, proper pastries, and artisanal coffee.”
Good news for students who are sick of chips and beans. Foodie events on campus will hopefully have a wider variety in the future but this new society is one that will surely have a large presence on campus for a long time to come.