AASU hosts two-week Taste of Asia event through Konza Student Table

The Asian American Student Union replaced its annual foods around the world event amid COVID-19 with a partnership with the Konza Student Table. (Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State’s Asian American Student Union held its first Taste of Asia event this Wednesday at Konza Student Table.

Volunteers served pancit, a Filipino chicken, noodles and vegetables dish, as well as aloo gobi, an Indian curry entrée with potato and cauliflower.

AASU usually hosts Foods of the World tasting events in the spring to help students and communities better understand different cultures and expand their palates. However, the event looked a bit different this year.

“In the past, we’ve had to collect volunteers from our own organization and outside, which makes it a little bit more unsafe, especially with COVID going on,” Sabine Hoff, AASU vice president-internal and junior in bakery science and management, said. “We were worried it was a concern. We found out about the Konza Student Table — the organization we’re collaborating with this year — through Dr. Thurston from the International Student Center, and it’s been really nice.”

Konza Student Table, a program serving warm weekly meals to K-State students and community members in need, started last September and is held at St. Isidore’s Catholic Church from 5:30 to 7 p.m. every Wednesday. Konza Student Table provides meals via contactless drive-through and walk-up service.

Students in the hospitality department — under hospitality management instructor Ericka Bauer’s supervision — usually prepare the meals for Konza Student Table. Bauer ensures everyone making, distributing and receiving these meals stays safe during the pandemic.

Bauer said AASU took the initiative last fall, asking how it could still host the event.

“They approached me and asked, ‘How can we still put our food out there?'” Bauer said. “And that’s exactly what they did. They organized the whole thing. I gave them some guidelines, but they came up with the recipes and the ideas.”

Michelle Le, AASU secretary and junior in civil engineering, said Konza Student Table has a budget for each week’s meals. AASU leaders worked with Bauer and the hospitality department to plan great-tasting, authentic foods without going over budget.

Hoff said she had fun making the food for Bauer and the hospitality students.

“Ericka was super interested in learning our cooking techniques, with all of us, and she was just genuinely interested in how the dishes were prepared, and she made certain she was always trying to pronounce the dishes correctly too,” Hoff said.

Le said they are very organized.

“While all of this is new, all that they’ve done for us is very appreciated,” Le said.

The Bakery Science Club is also involved, with members preparing the sandwich rolls for next Wednesday’s banh mi.

Bauer said she was excited when AASU initiated the partnership with Konza Student Table.

“Konza Table was initially for students that were of the international variety, as well as those struggling on campus to find food sources,” Bauer said. “It was a perfect match, and I said, ‘Please, come over.'”

Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) missionary Stephie Teffeteller said she has volunteered at Konza Student Table from the start. She enjoys distributing the meals because it gives her an opportunity to serve.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to bring the community and the campus together and serve those people who are in need,” Teffeteller said.

Bauer said she tries to give students a “taste of home” through the meals she and her students prepare.

“Konza Table is one of those things that just makes you happy each week that you do it,” Bauer said. “Even though it takes a lot of your time and a lot of your effort, it’s one of those things that’s very rewarding for everyone that’s involved and everyone that receives the product in the end.”

Students and community members can return to St. Isidore’s from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 21 for the second Taste of Asia night featuring banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich with beef or chicken and pickled vegetables, as well as bún thịt nướng, a vegetarian Vietnamese cold noodle dish with vegetables, peanuts, impossible meat and mild chili sauce.