One windy winter day, two freshmen decided they were tired of dining hall food and took a train to New Brunswick in search of gourmet sandwiches. On the train back to Princeton three hours later, they recognized their common passion for food and decided to share it with the University community. A year later, a student-run online magazine known as Princeton Spoon University was born.
Anthony Shu ’16 and Jeffrey Liu ’16 launched the Princeton chapter of Spoon University, a national organization founded by students at Northwestern University, on Nov. 8. The chapter is now one of 10 operating at colleges and universities throughout the country.
For Shu and Liu, food is more than just sustenance. They said they started the club to provide a discussion space for students who wanted to talk about the multidimensional aspects of food.
“I think the first thing is that food, like you said, is really universal … People say that Princetonians kind of get stuck in the Bubble,” Shu, who is the magazine’s business director, explained. “But food is a really easy way to expand your world and to explore, and it’s something that each student has a passion for here.”
Liu, the editor in chief, said he believes that food is a powerful way to connect with one’s culture. “It’s like another form of expression,” Liu said of the process of eating. “I don’t really cook, but my expression is choosing what to eat. That kind of expression does kind of reflect the person you are, like what you grew up on, the flavors you grew up on.”
Spoon, as it is nicknamed, hosted an open house at the end of September and a launch party in early November. Shu explained that the club is looking forward to launching its own projects, including several on-campus events and collaborative efforts with Spoon chapters at other universities.
The club is also trying to build relationships with small businesses in town, such as Infini-T, which sponsored Spoon’s launch party, Liu noted.
The national organization was founded in 2012 by two Northwestern students to promote public discussion on how to eat healthily on college campuses, according to Spoon University’s website.
Shu explained that part of the impetus for founding the Princeton chapter came out of consultations with his friends at Northwestern who were seeking to expand the club. “I’ve been in touch with them since January of last year,” Shu said.
Princeton’s chapter currently covers seven broad categories, with topics ranging from simple recipes to discussions of conscious consumption to restaurant reviews. Shu said the organization’s content could reflect the diversity of student interests in food at the University.
Kei Yamaya ’17, a staff writer for the magazine, said she was attracted to the club because of the prospect of writing about whatever topics she found interesting.
“I feel like we are still given a lot of freedom on what we might want to do,” she said. “Anthony and Jeff are really open to stuff I might want to write on.”
Liu and Shu emphasized that Spoon would seek to get people more invested in the food they eat and cook.
“Spoon isn’t just us telling other people about food,” Liu said. “Really, we just want people to … care about food more.”