Chinese Club sets high standards with food event


Hannah Keehan

Vera Fong (’21) wraps a dumpling filled with chicken and greens, like many others at the event. “Eating the dumplings was my favorite part, but it was fun to learn how to make them and the outcome was very rewarding”, Maggie Butz (’19) says. In Chinese Club, members participate in various activities that deal with the Chinese culture, such as visiting Chinatown in Chicago, playing traditional games (like the popular Chinese version of hackysack), and watching Chinese movies. Their next meeting will be November 15, Thursday, and it will be held in Lan Lao Shi’s room.

Packets of dumpling wrap. Ground chicken. Cabbage and green onions. Various sauces and spices. A playlist containing a mixture of Chinese and Mongolian music. Thirty or so food-loving students. A recipe for a successful dumpling party.

As one of their first events of the year, the Brookfield Central Chinese Club hosted a dumpling party. The event took place right after school ended on Thursday, September 20. From making the dumplings to eating them, it lasted around two hours. The dumpling party was planned by Chinese Club officer Shweta Panda (‘20). Having enjoyed the event herself when she attended as a freshman, Panda thought a dumpling party would be a fun way to kick-off the school year. “Everyone really enjoyed themselves [during my freshman year]. I thought [a dumpling party] would be ambitious as our second meeting, but it turned out to be a blast!”

A week before the event, Panda emailed out a spreadsheet for interested members. In it, she invited members to sign up to bring different ingredients and materials. The initial plan involved having the club itself cover the cost of the event, but after some discussion, the officer team had decided to split the cost between the club and members who were kind enough to purchase ingredients. This was to create the possibility of more food-based meetings later in the school year. The spreadsheet was intended to give Panda and the other officers an idea of how many ingredients they themselves would need to supply, based on the number of people attending and the number of ingredients the members themselves would cover. Of these two, only the latter turned out to be accurate.

What was expected to be less than ten people ended up being around thirty. “I was really shocked to see so many people,” stated Panda, “but very pleased they all could come. Shout out to Lan Laoshi who was smart enough to bring extra ingredients!” According to Panda, Lan Laoshi’s previous experience with dumpling parties was a huge asset to the event. “She made sure we didn’t miss any steps along the way,” Panda said.

For Panda, as well as many of the other members in attendance, dumpling making was a brand new experience. While making the filling— a mixture of store-bought ground chicken, cabbage, and other ingredients— was simple enough, folding the dumplings was a different matter. Fortunately, some of the more experienced attendees were willing to help teach others.

One such experienced dumpling-folder was Vera Fong(‘21). For Fong, guiding others through the process of folding dumplings was a highlight of the event. “For most [people], it was probably their first time [folding dumplings], but [their dumplings] were really nice. You could tell they put lots of effort into folding [them],” recalled Fong. Fong described the event as a success that she recommends to others, saying “It’s super fun, it’s food, and you can discover the culture of Chinese people. [It’s] kind of a different atmosphere [with everyone] connecting through dumplings.”

Panda agreed with the sentiment. “It was a good time. It really was quite a bit of work on the front end and the board was a little discoordinated at first, but we learnt a lot from the experience.” For one potential improvement, Panda thought back to the dumpling party she attended as a freshman: “We cooked all the dumplings, and then Lan Laoshi sat us down at a big table, and we all made a circle and ate all [the dumplings] together like a big family. [This year], no one was there to direct us; we [just] did as we pleased and just ate dumplings whenever [we wanted to]. I would like to bring that back next time.”

For food enthusiasts and those that enjoyed the dumpling party, Panda hints at more food-based events to look forward to, including a ramen party and an unlimited junk food day.