On a recent evening, 17 Hopkins alumni gathered in the private alcove of Snack Bar, the newest Minneapolis haunt by the James Beard Award–winning chef Isaac Becker. While sharing a bounty of sea scallops, brown butter noodles, and prime hanger steaks, alumni young and old networked and mingled. This latest "foodie dinner" drew recent graduates who arrived together, along with alumni leaders in the region. Some more seasoned Blue Jays also joined, one of whom is now a wine distributor. "He was telling us about his wine, and that led to our next event, which was at a cooking school," says Gregory Hong, A&S '93.
The Minneapolis alumni chapter is among those embracing their city's foodie culture to convene the Hopkins community. In Chicago, Will Linder, A&S '72, says the foodie group meets once or twice a year to explore the city's adventurous palate—everything from Italian beef sandwiches to fine French cuisine. They've gathered at restaurants like chef Stephanie Izard's Girl & The Goat and Jaleo, the Midwest outpost of chef José Andrés. No matter the cuisine or the age mix, one of the nice things about these foodie dinners is that they have a lively, youthful vibe, Linder says.
"Food is a great conversation starter," Linder says, because "you have people meeting up at these foodie dinners who might come from Peabody, the School of Public Health, or the School of Advanced International Studies in D.C. Food is a great way for people to share a common experience."
Eric Chu, Engr '06, who organizes dinners in San Francisco, says alumni recently met at Orchard City Kitchen, a "California-style restaurant with a little bit of Asian influence," because it's a reliable favorite reflecting the best of the region's cuisine. San Francisco's food boasts "access to a lot of the produce in California as well as the different cultures we have here."
Across the country, the Alumni Association helps bring people to the table by providing a budget to make the dinners as affordable as possible and also contributes Hopkins swag for attendees.