United Culinarians hosts free Thanksgiving banquet

By Matthew Ward

The Collins College of Hospitality Management sponsored a free
Thanksgiving feast by the United Culinarians club last Thursday
during U-hour on behalf of all Cal Poly students.

The United Culinarians are a group of students looking to
provide an environment outside the classroom where its members can
grow in the culinary field through the use of fundraisers,
industry-related events, seminars and discussions.

This intimate contact allows students to expand their culinary
knowledge with others who share similar interests.

The organization was first created and chartered in fall 2008.
Despite being fairly new to Cal Poly, the club already has 58
members. Member admission is based solely on the individual’s
passion for the culinary arts, regardless of it being big or

An infatuation with cooking is also ideal, since members will be
working with food a majority of the time.

“This [Thanksgiving] event provides our members an opportunity
to see what it takes to run a full scale catering operation while
giving back to the Collins College and its students,” said Sean Van
Straatum, president of the club. “This is just one of seven events
that are funded by the dean to increase unity at the Collins
College. This encourages students to give back, while building the
community within the Collins College.”

The event also provided “fast pass” tickets to students who made
a donation of one or more canned goods at the banquet. The students
then would be moved to the front of the line where they could get
priority access to the festivities. Individuals who did not bring
anything were forced to wait in a line, which at its peak,
stretched all the way from Collins College to parking lot L.

Eager students lined up like clockwork to celebrate Thanksgiving
a week early and brought with them a sense of cheer and

“There’s a lot of good work being done here,” said Kristin
Turner, 2nd-year animal sciences student. “All the canned food that
is collected by the United Culinarians is donated to local
charities on Thanksgiving. I’m very happy to support the cause and
get a really good meal out of it in the process.”

According to Van Straatum, the prospects of the organization lie
mostly with its young members who will ultimately ensure that the
clubs primary purpose is sustained.

“The future of the club depends entirely on the leadership of
future executive boards,” said Van Straatum. “My administration and
I have tried our best to lay out a well organized foundation for
future boards to use as a model. This club represents the essence
of creativity, organization, and collaboration; therefore we intend
to give the tools to whomever we pass it off to.”

Van Straatum plans to perform humanitarian work after graduating
from Cal Poly later next year.

“I plan on attending the Culinary Institute of America and from
there, building my reputation in the restaurant industry,” he said.
“My long term goal is to start a student-run restaurant to assist
misguided youth in my hometown of Oakland, California.”

Students from any major who are interested in joining the United
Culinarians are welcome to join anytime. Next Monday, the club will
cater an exclusive wine dinner for students of the Intro to Wine,
Beers, and Spirits class.

Future events include some on-site cooking competitions among
members, a slaughterhouse tour and various community service

Reach Matthew Ward at: news@thepolypost.com

United Culinarians hosts free Thanksgiving banquet

Matthew Ward/Poly Post

United Culinarians hosts free Thanksgiving banquet

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