It began one night last fall term in the 4th Goodhue study lounge, when one self-described freshman foodie was inspired to start a campus cooking club.
What started as Vayu Rekdal’s ’15 dream to launch Carleton’s first culinary club has grown into a 150-member organization hosting weekly campus events.
“Our goal is to promote an understanding of different backgrounds and cultures through the universal language of food,” Rekdal said.
As someone who had worked as a prep cook for renowned New York chef Marcus Samuelsson, as well as taught cooking classes for his peers, Rekdal said he already had the idea for a cooking club in the back of his mind when he arrived at Carleton last fall.
“I realized my ambition for this club was probably larger than what I could handle on my own,” he said. “I approached my floormates and asked them whether they wanted to join me in this exciting endeavor.”
And with that, Firebellies was born.
Initially, 40 members showed enough interest to start the group. But by the end of winter term, they had grown to over 150 members and were even featured in the local news.
“It all took off during winter term,” Rekdal said. “Holding events ranging from cooking classes to top chef style competitions and fun cooking games,our club grew rapidly, and with our solid 10-member board composed of passionate and creative foodies, there seemed to be no limits for how far we could go.”
Now, Firebellies holds weekly campus events, ranging from soda making classes and food discussions, to healthy brunch workshops. Some of their larger events have been in conjunction with Bon Appétit, including cooking classes and a cooking competition, “Top Chef Dining Hall.”
“Firebellies tries to include all the aspects of food, culinary, educational, and social, as the diversity of our events reflects,” said Rekdal.
He is thrilled to see the club take off so quickly in pursuit of the goals he originally laid out. “As the founder of the club, it has been fantastic not only to see the club grow exponentially, but also to see how we are able, despite being such a large club, to maintain and work towards our ultimate goals. It is exciting to see Carleton slowly become a community that nurtures food in such a profound way, in other words, a community that fosters all aspects of sustainability and education, including culinary arts.”
Rekdal hopes to continue to work towards those goals. “In the future, I hope Carleton will have a strong culinary tradition. I hope Carleton will be a campus known for its strong student interest in culinary arts and cooking.”
With enough student interest, this seems like it can easily be achieved. Rekdal also hopes to see his movement expand outside Carleton’s campus. “I really hope to see Firebellies grow beyond Carleton, becoming a model for similar organizations on campuses across the nation.”
And at the rate that Firebellies continues to develop, these dreams could become a reality.
Interested in joining? Rekdal says students who wish to get involved with Firebellies can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org to be put on the email list. The board holds weekly meetings open to all members on Sundays from 6:15-7PM in one of the LDC dining hall meeting rooms.
Also, Firebellies will host its event “Top Chef Dining Hall” in collaboration with Bon Appétit this Saturday in Burton Dining Hall. Judges, including chefs, Bon Appétit employees, people from the College, and students, award a traveling trophy and the opportunity to design a full dinner menu that will be served in LDC the following Saturday.