How did the new Minnesota Cooking Club come to exist on campus? The answer involves a love of food, the social networking website Reddit and a persistent University of Minnesota graduate student who wanted to create a space for people who like to eat.
Justin Wiese tried starting a cooking club at the University last year, but was unable to find enough members. Student Unions and Activities' policy requires that groups have at least five members. Despite the setback, Wiese was undeterred.
“I really wanted to create the club … I didn’t have anybody who enjoyed cooking as much as me around. I just like talking about food,” Wiese said.
On his second attempt, Wiese discovered Reddit was the key to getting the club off the ground. Using the University's page, Wiese found five officers to start the club.
Now with nine members, the group is off the ground and cooking.
The club meets and cooks meals for two hours almost every week in the student kitchen on the second floor of Coffman Union. On Wednesday, two new students came to the meeting after hearing about the club on Reddit.
“I don’t know how to cook,” said senior Melinda Hong, one of the new students at the meeting. “That’s why I’m here.”
Most other participants had also learned about the event from Wiese’s posts on Reddit, where he details what the club will make in the upcoming week, inviting anyone who sees the post to attend.
“It definitely seems like Reddit is a growing trend for recruiting members,” said Patrick Haught, a student activities advisor. Haught said an entire discussion on the University's Reddit page is devoted to student groups. Although SUA does not officially have anything to do with the discussion, Haught said he is glad to see it active.
At the Cooking Club's Wednesday meeting, attendees' cooking skills varied.
“I like cooking, but I’m bad at it,” said sophomore Joe Peterson, laughing as he signed a liability waiver before he could start cooking.
On Wednesday, Cuban sandwiches were on the menu. Made with Nordic cheese, roasted pork, pickles, mustard and bread, the sandwiches were toasted and ready to eat in an hour and a half.
“It’s my last year,” Wiese said as he scrubbed fried cheese off a pan after the meeting. “I’d like to see the club continue. It’d be cool to come back in, like, five years ... and see that the club is still active and they’re still teaching students how to make easy dishes, learning new cooking techniques and meeting people that like to cook.”