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A new lexicon of food: UNH junior brings ‘Spoon University’ to Durham


Emma Rayner approached the Conrad Hotel in Battery Park on a sweltering NYC afternoon. Her destination? Loopy Doopy, the hotel’s rooftop bar, to visit with Chef Cardoso.

Rayner was enrolled in a summer journalism course at New York University called “Eat NY.” She spent those months adventuring and navigating life in the exuberant Big Apple, interviewing chefs all over the city and spotting food trends.

Now, at the University of New Hampshire, Rayner is launching the newest publication on campus: Spoon University.

Hadley Barndollar/ STAFF  Junior Emma Rayner combined her dual-major in English and Ecogastronomy with her passion for food to bring Spoon University to UNH. The Durham branch of the website will launch March 31.
Hadley Barndollar/ STAFF

Junior Emma Rayner combined her dual-major in English and Ecogastronomy with her passion for food to bring Spoon University to UNH. The Durham branch of the website will launch March 31.

According Rayner, Spoon U is an everyday food source written by college kids, for college kids. Their features will include everything from local eats, to creative recipes to innovative dining hall hacks. An online platform, Spoon U cites over 1800 contributors at more than 50 campuses nationwide.

“UNH can sometimes be overlooked for its amazing relationship with good food,” Rayner, a junior, said. “With all the ecological projects and food related majors we offer, I thought Spoon U would be a great community to have on our campus for students who have a similar passion for food as I do, but nowhere to share it.”

The idea originated when Rayner’s friend from home mentioned a Spoon U publication at her university. From there, Rayner dedicated herself to establishing a creative food outlet on campus. As an English and Ecogastronomy double major, she was essentially combining her skills and passions. Rayner also studied abroad in Italy last spring, perhaps one of the top food hubs of the world.

“I often times find myself picking up a random vegetable, or a new sauce and seeing how I could cook with it,” Rayner said. “I just love sharing meals with friends, telling people about cool restaurants and shamelessly instagramming my meals.”

Rayner emphasized that Spoon U is not just for the healthy eater, but rather the smart one.

“The goal is to help people eat intelligently; this doesn’t just mean healthfully.”

Current headlines on the master website include “How to eat and drink your way through a green St. Patty’s Day,” “15 Ramen hacks that are borderline genius” and “How to eat like Beyoncé for 7 days.” The articles run the full gamut, and it’s completely in the hands of the students.

Spoon U offers quite the array of positions for students looking to get involved. Rayner referenced that they are still looking for writers, editors, photographers, videographers and marketers to join the team. There’s a spot for every food lover.

So far, there’s been a tremendous amount of interest expressed.

“Everyone I have talked to seems really excited about Spoon U coming to campus,” Rayner said. “Some people have [told] me they really want to see recipe articles, and just ways to make eating more fun and easy with our busy college schedules.”

Rayner and the Spoon U team hope to make students more comfortable in their own kitchens. Food is a difficult thing to navigate at college, but Rayner wants to make it a communal process. 

“[Before taking the “Eat NY” course] I had no idea how trendy food could be, and I would love UNH to be a part of that social circle.”

Releasing new content weekly, the goal is that Spoon U will create a greater awareness of local food communities, as well as the endless creativity that goes along with cuisine.   

“I hope [it] will open people’s minds to trying other restaurants in neighboring towns, attending local farmers markets, or creating fun meals in the dining halls or even their dorms,” Rayner said. “I hope it brings a new lexicon of food reaching a range of students, while creating a haven for students with a secret passion for food.”

From Italy to New York City and back to Durham, Rayner has turned her passion into a publication.

Spoon University will launch March 31.

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