Lunar New Year, better known as the Spring Festival in China, is a traditional celebration of welcoming new beginnings. Each year, the festival is celebrated at the turn of the Chinese lunisolar calendar, which is derived from the phases of the moon and the solar year. It’s a holiday that is celebrated by billions of people around the globe, including many in the UNH community.
On Wednesday, Feb. 1, Philbrook Dining Hall (Philly) hosted a Lunar New Year dinner for students, faculty members and those from the local community. Not only were there red lanterns and several other decorations displayed around the dining hall, but there was also an array of food available. These included potstickers, Cantonese roast duck and crab rangoon, to name a few. Some of the gluten-free and vegan options included hot and sour soup, miso mushroom soup and rice noodles, which are traditional Lunar New Year dishes.
UNH Executive Chef Todd Sweet said that the inspiration behind the chosen dishes were based off of Korean, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine, and that he wanted to keep it as cultural and authentic as possible.
Sweet also said that in order to keep the selected dishes true to the culture represented in the special dinner, dining services bought supplies from Happy Market, a local vendor located in downtown Durham.
“The biggest challenge is sourcing ethnic ingredients, but (we) want to cater to the international students as well. (The man) from Happy Market goes to Boston and New York throughout the week to buy the Asian cuisine,” Sweet said. “But we go through everything in mass quantities. We are ordering and making double the quantity from last year. The Cantonese roast duck and potstickers seem to be peoples’ favorite.”
Philbrook Manager Brandon Crosby anticipates that the Lunar New Year themed dinner will be continuing for years to come. He said that, although this is only the second year as a “full hall” event, the Lunar New Year dinner started four years ago on a small grill station and has since grown. Although this event takes place only at Philbrook rather than at all three dining halls, Crosby stated that during the spring semester, Philly tends to do more independent events.
“We have more flexibility, so although we take part in the other themed dinners that Holloway Commons and Stillings put on first semester, we tend to break a way a bit in the spring,” Crosby said.
The Lunar New Year themed dinner is made possible by the regular staff workers and student workers employed by UNH Dining Services. Didn’t get the opportunity to make it to the Lunar New Year dinner? Philbrook dining hall is hosting another themed dinner that encompasses the flavors of Latin America on Wednesday, March 29, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.