AMHERST, Mass. – Chefs at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have again set a new Guinness World Record, this time by creating a 15,291-pound fresh fruit salad at the Labor Day barbecue that celebrates the return of students to the campus.
The record fruit salad was the work of a team of culinary experts including celebrity chef Jet Tila of the Food Network, Willie Sng, UMass Amherst’s executive chef, and Oliver de Volpi, head chef at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, who set the previous record of 11,197 pounds of fruit salad last year. They had help from the award-winning UMass Amherst Dining Services team, UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy and a small army of 500 student volunteers, administrators and staff.
The dish was assembled beginning at 4 p.m. as part of the Welcome UMass Amherst Barbecue that ran until 7 p.m. At around 4:45 p.m., the official weighing ceremony took place after the chancellor added the last pieces of fruit. Once the record was broken, the fruit salad was offered to people attending the event and was also quickly transported to dining commons and other locations on campus.
The fruit salad contained 3,640 pounds of apples from 20 varieties, 450 pounds of mangos, 1,297 pounds of berries, including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and gooseberries, 8.25 pounds of currants, 2,580 pounds of melon, including watermelon, musk melon, honeydew melon and cantaloupe, 22.5 pounds of papaya, 558.5 pounds of pear, 11 varieties, 1,185 pounds of oranges, nine varieties, and small amounts of lychee nuts, passion fruit pomegranate, quince, kiwi and starfruit. Other ingredients included bananas, cherries, mint, grapefruit, peaches, pineapple and plums.
Ken Toong, executive director of auxiliary enterprises at UMass Amherst, says setting the Guinness World Record is fun and helps achieve several important goals. “This exercise allows UMass Amherst to support the resiliency of the New England food system by using as much locally sourced fruit as possible,” Toong says. “It also promotes sustainability and healthy eating, allows us to showcase regional cuisine and helps build important connections within the UMass campus community. We used fruits from our student-run farm, the four permaculture gardens on campus, and from many local farmers.”
Dining Services worked with UMass Amherst engineering professor Scott Civjan to design the steel platform that held the 4-foot high, 15-foot diameter reinforced swimming pool containing the fruit salad mixture. The salad was weighed using a truck scale.
Civjan has worked with dining services during past record-breaking efforts and was instrumental in the design of the 14-foot diameter, 1-ton stir-fry pan used in 2011 when UMass took the record for the world’s largest stir-fry at 4,010 pounds, and last year for the world’s largest New England seafood stew, weighing in at over 6,656 pounds.a
UMass dining officials also have an elaborate plan for the fruit salad once it is created. During the event, 5,000 pounds will be used for smoothies and fruit cups, 3,000 pounds will be used at the Dining Commons later that night for dinner and late night menu items, another 2,000 pounds will be frozen for baked items and 2,000 pounds will be used the following morning for breakfast smoothies in all the campus dining halls. In addition, 2,000 pounds will be used to make jam for use during the year and 1,000 pounds will be used in retail locations on campus.
Corporate sponsors cover the total cost of the event, says Toong. Among the sponsors are Dole, Freshpoint, Kittredge Equipment, Cambro, Bush’s Best, Barilla, General Mills, Coca Cola, Performance Foodservice, Teddy Bear Pools, Texas Pete and Ecolab.