African and Caribbean Student Union hosts cultural cook-off

Krystal Miller, Associate News Editor

Loud, upbeat music and the smell of delicious food and laughter filled the Carl Hansen Student Center Piazza on Friday night.

The African and Caribbean Student Union hosted a cultural cook-off on Feb. 24 complete with various foods like jerk chicken, plantains, empanadas and pollo guisado. Students participated in a raffle for prizes, like Lego flowers, and voted on their favorite foods through a QR code available on each table.

Autumn White, ACSU’s event coordinator and a first-year criminal justice major, said the cultural cook-off was a way to integrate everyone’s different cultures into the Quinnipiac University community.

“We felt like it was important enough to keep the tradition going, we felt like it wasn’t enough emphasis as far as our culture being introduced to Quinnipiac because there’s different ways you can do it,” White said. “Food is a commonality that brings people together.”

White said many students confuse ACSU with other multicultural organizations like the Black Student Union and the Latino Cultural Society and tend to not know much about African and Caribbean countries.

“There’s so many countries in the Caribbean that don’t get enough recognition,” White said. “So I feel like us as an organization wanted to do something that just represents us well, and our countries in a fun way.”

White said she was most excited to engage with people who may have questions. She said this is the first big event ACSU has held this year.

“I feel like I get a really good feeling that people want to know more about my culture, my country, so I think it’d be very exciting to see people that want to come,” White said.

The planning involved coordinating the perfect time that didn’t conflict with other organizations, the amount and type of food and the best place to decorate, White said.

“We work as a team, but we’re also booking a space, calling the different restaurants or seeing what type of foods people may like,” White said.

Students lined up for food served by the ACSU in large trays, along with drinks in the cooler, such as Jamaican soda. Everyone then sat down at the tables to discuss with their friends. A colorful graphic of the words “Cultural Cook-off” was displayed on the projector screen throughout the night.

Joseph Aikins, a sophomore film, television and media arts major, attended the cultural cook-off to enjoy the start of the weekend.

“It’s good, everyone here is friendly and I’ve had good conversations,” Aikins said.

Aikins said his favorite food of the night was the plantains.

“I decided to come for free food, connect with others and have an experience on a Friday night,” Aikins said.

Anna-Beth Haye, ACSU’s president and a junior journalism major, said it is important to educate people on African and Caribbean culture. Haye said because of COVID-19, the tradition started to fade out.

“In between my freshman and now junior year, I realized that (the cultural cook-off) kind of fizzled out, so I wanted to bring it back.” Haye said. “I think it’s really important we bring it back and share different foods on campus, especially since Quinnipiac is not as diverse as it can be.”

Haye said the purpose of the event is to share culture and the food associated with it.

“So I think it’s really important that we kind of create a piece of home, a piece of how we grew up here, because we’re here and this is not temporary,” Haye said.

Everyone is invited to the event, including current students and alumni, Haye said.

“We just want to make it a really fun, safe space for everybody,” Haye said.