Experiencing hummus with UConn Hillel
Published: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Updated: Sunday, October 13, 2013 23:10
The UConn Jewish community, aspiring chefs and hummus lovers alike will come together on Tuesday to take part in the second annual Hummus Experience from 8 to 10 p.m. at Hillel.
Sponsored by Hillel, Dining Services and Cedars, the Hummus Experience is a competitive cook-off where teams of students create their own hummus varieties to vie for a year’s worth of free hummus and their own flavor to be served at Gelfenbien Dining Hall. Teams are given fresh vegetables and herbs to spice up Cedar’s original hummus or the more creative-minded can create their own recipe from scratch.
In what is one intense hour of hummus-making, teams prepare their recipes to be tested by students. The students’ top five picks are then tasted by a panel of judges before a winner is selected.
Hillel’s largest event of the year promotes Jewish culture in addition to the integration of diverse types of students across campus, which, UConn Hillel Executive Director Gary Wolff said, is much like Judaism itself.
“The Hummus Experience symbolizes the coming together of different types of people, different thoughts under one goal to make hummus,” Wolff said. “Judaism doesn’t discriminate against Jewish identity, it actually meshes everyone together so we can remember, learn and challenge.”
Perhaps the Hummus Experience’s biggest draw is its fun environment, said Hillel President Emily Block, a fifth semester political science and human rights double major. Last year, Block was part of the fan favorite team that garnered the most student votes with their original spicy Thai peanut flavor.
“It’s such a friendly competition, and I love to see people get really creative and make new (hummus) flavors,” said Block.
Last year’s competition attracted 450 students, but Wolff said this year’s turnout is expected to be approximately 300 due to a reduced number of participating teams. The entry limit for teams was capped at 16 instead of last year’s 20 in order to improve the quality of experience, Wolff said.
Hummm City, a team of four student employees at the Lodewick Visitor’s Center, claimed the Hummus Experience title in 2012. Their winning creation of Sabra’s original hummus was reinvented with jalapeno, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, cumin and garlic.
As the center for UConn’s Jewish community, Hillel strives to enhance the lives of Jewish students through education and social programs including sporting events, holiday and Shabbat events, professional networking and Taglit Birthright trip to Israel.
Wolff said the integration and team-oriented aspects that are invaluable to the Hummus Experience allows students to grow and forge stronger relationships amongst one another. “It’s like the perfect flavor of hummus,” he said.