On Feb. 10, the McGill Students’ Culinary Society (MSCS) transformed the SSMU Ballroom into a dessert lover’s paradise, complete with carnival games, festive decorations, upbeat music, and a delicious array of sweet treats. With help from volunteers, the MSCS hosted an event that was much more than just your average bake sale. Though the club has organized many workshops, such as the French Fine Dining workshop and the Challah For Hunger workshop, this was their first-ever dessert carnival.
“We wanted to do something big, and we also wanted to showcase the talent that we have at McGill because there’s a lot of kids here who are really great [bakers],” Mark Mekhanik, U1 Science and Vice-President Media of MSCS, said.
At the carnival, hungry students paid a dollar per token at the door. These tokens could then be used to either try a dessert or play a game. Through playing the games, which included a ring toss, animal pong, and trivia, students could earn additional tokens and vote for their favourite dessert. The winners of the dessert contest were Ianina Altshuler, PhD candidate in microbiology, and her partner, Jerome Choi, a guest contestant from outside McGill. The pair baked a galaxy doughnut and a bacon doughnut as a team, and were awarded an ice cream machine for their creations.
With desserts ranging from classics like cinnamon buns and tiramisu, to inventive creations like pokemon cake pops and candied bacon-topped doughnuts, any student could find something to enjoy. The most extravagant desserts included an English trifle, blueberry and mango panna cotta, cream puffs with homemade jam, and moka macarons. The array of desserts at the event was inclusive to vegans, too, thanks to volunteer Juliette Coleman, U0 Arts, who brought vegan doughnuts.
“I went vegan a year ago, and I stopped baking because what can you bake when you’re a vegan?” Coleman said. “Then I decided that being vegan doesn’t mean I have to stop baking, and I decided to try and make vegan things and make them good too.”
Along with student volunteers, brothers Jack and Vincent Ma, owners of Le Majesthé, an Asian fusion bistro and teahouse, presented raspberry mousse matcha cake from their restaurant. By taking part in the carnival, they hoped to promote their restaurant and share their love of food with the community.
“I like to make pretty things, so dessert is pretty desirous,” Jack Ma said. “The product, if it’s made nicely, wows people. I like to see people happy after trying my dessert, so that’s what got me into cooking.”
Volunteers had a chance to win prizes, revel in the recognition of their talent, and receive compensation as they turned in their tokens for money at the end of the night. Participants, on the other hand, were able to enjoy the many different desserts.
“I feel like this is such a hit, and it’s cool to see people explore a talent that not a lot of students ever consider to have the time for because they’re so busy,” Priya Dube, U3 Arts, and event participant, said. “I think food just brings people together.”
The MSCS plans to continue hosting workshops, hoping to grow both their club’s reputation and students’ knowledge and interest in the culinary arts.
“Our goal is to provide a service to students to help them eat better and to help them develop a better understanding of the culinary arts,” Mekhanik said. “The goal is to elevate the standard of the general culinary literacy of students.”