Taste of UMass Will Feature Healthy World Cuisines, Nationally Renowned Chef on Thursday, April 19

AMHERST, Mass. – The Taste of UMass 2007, one of the largest campus food service gatherings in the nation, expects to draw 8,000 students on Thursday, April 19, from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Mullins Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

This year’s event will feature nationally renowned chef and television personality Jet Tila, who will demonstrate healthy cooking techniques to students and offer his expertise on how to prepare healthy Southeast Asian cuisine. Local farmers and staff from Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA) will also be on hand.

Visitors will encounter 80 food booths featuring healthy cuisines from throughout the world, and Tila will demonstrate stir-fry cooking techniques using local ingredients. Tila regularly appears on the Food Network, The Learning Channel and HGTV. He is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s “Good Food” with Evan Kleiman. Tila holds the Guinness World Record for the “World’s Largest Stir-fry” at 1,805 pounds in 2005. At the Taste of UMass, he will teach eight selected students how to cook stir-fry. The students were selected based on essays.

“This is a last hurrah for students before finals and our biggest event of the year—we want them to have fun and enjoy a variety of food,” says Ken Toong, director of Dining Services. “We’re featuring many global menu choices by leveraging the flavors of Southeast Asian cuisine.”

The Taste of UMass will also include:

* UMass Idol competition and Battle of the Bands, in partnership with LAZER 99.3

* Booths from Trader Joe’s, Big Y and local restaurants

* Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest (winner goes to Coney Island for a televised national competition)

* Appearances by the New England Patriots’ cheerleaders, accompanied by Sam the Minuteman

* Learn about buying local produce, sustainability and fair trade

* Entertainment including a magic show

* Opportunities to win many door prizes

All dining halls will be closed at 3 p.m. on the day of the event. Admission is a swipe of a meal card for students and $11 for cash customers. Doors open at 4:30. This event is open to the public.