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Students taste South Bend’s international food

Catriona Shaughnessy | Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Crowds filled La Fortune Student Center on Wednesday night, drawn by the International Taste of South Bend, part of Notre Dame’s celebration of International Education Week.

The International Taste of ND has been the signature event of International Education Week on Notre Dame’s campus for the past four years. Student volunteer, Sarah Jung, said the event serves to showcase different cuisines from South Bend, which can be hard for students to come by.

“It shows how diverse South Bend food actually is,” she said.

McKenna Pencak, main coordinator of the event and a representative for International Student Services and Activities, said the event offers an opportunity to appreciate students’ various backgrounds and cultures, especially with such a prominent international community at Notre Dame.

“There are more than 1,000 international students at Notre Dame … The International Taste of South Bend helps celebrate and promote international education and exchange,” Pencak said

Restaurant owners were eager to showcase their cuisine and their culture with both students and South Bend locals. Luc, owner of the Salvadoran restaurant Girasol known for its signature papusas, has participated in the International Taste of South Bend since its debut four years ago.

“It’s a good opportunity to attract customers,” Luc said.

Kenny Weiss, chef and family owner of Weiss’ Gasthaus, was a newcomer to event. Weiss’ Gasthaus is a new traditional German restaurant in South Bend located close to campus.

“The timing, the building, everything just came together, so we decided we might as well take the chance,” he said.

In view of the educational aspect of the event, Kenny commented on the role cuisine plays in building a global community.

 “More people make peace over breaking bread than anything else,” he said.

Although the International Taste of South Bend is a venue in which restaurants can showcase their food in order to attract customers, restaurant owners emphasized their appreciation of the Notre Dame student body. The owner of King Gyro’s was particularly expressive of his regard for ND students.

“We have five sites now, but we started right next to ND, and we just fell in love with the students,” he said.

Student volunteer, Ivy Yen, said she thought the event gave students an important opportunity to promote intercultural understanding.

“I think it brings everyone together because food makes you feel so good!” she said.

Contact Catriona Shaughnessy at cshaugh2@nd.edu.