Wednesday, March 4’s Top Chef event, hosted by the French Business and Lifestyle Club, was the debut event for the newly formed campus group and designed to attract both those who are already interested in French culture and those who are unfamiliar with it.
French chef and entrepreneur Etienne Jaulin came to Brandeis to give a cooking demonstration and lesson to 40 lucky students. The first 40 students to respond to the Facebook event with the words “Je souhaite cuisiner,” meaning “I want to cook” in French, were allowed to attend the event, which was held in Ridgewood A. While many students were interested, they were precluded from attending because the event was conducted entirely in French. “I love cooking, and I love Top Chef, so the [event] title got me, but unfortunately, I can’t go because I don’t speak French,” Annie Abrams ’17 said.
Those who could attend appeared to enjoy themselves. “I hope that we will be able to help people better understand the differences between the mindsets of Americans and the French. In order to achieve this, our goal is to have as many French guests as possible,” said Anthony Winszman ’17, founder of the French Business and Lifestyle club. Indeed, by bringing Jaulin to Brandeis, it appears that Winszman, along with other members of the club, are beginning to bridge a cultural gap.
When asked how he got involved in the club’s formation, Treasurer Sam Bernheim ’18 explained that Winszman was aware of Bernheim’s own involvement in French culture and approached him to be a part of the club’s E-board. “I myself am a French citizen and thought this would be a great way to learn more about the country while also interacting with other individuals on campus who want to learn more as well,” Bernheim said. “We thought that having a chef come to campus would be a great first activity because it provides an open environment for prospective members to get a feel of what our club is doing and how our events are going to be organized,” Bernheim continued.
He went on to explain that the goal of the club is different from the French and Francophone Club, which has more linguistic goals. Instead, French Business and Lifestyle aims to better understand business and entrepreneurship in France as a growing phenomenon. Furthermore, Winszman added that he hopes the club will also create a better understanding among Brandeis students about French lifestyle and work ethic. “It is important to me that we can debunk the stigma that the French are neither hard workers nor good entrepreneurs. Most people do not know it, but many companies in the U.S. are French-owned. Sodexo and Dassault system are good examples,” he said.
Despite being a new club, French Business and Lifestyle was able to reach out to a well-known international chef like Jaulin because of the French Consulate, which has provided the club with contacts and speakers. Winszman, who reached out to the French Consulate in Boston earlier this year, has been communicating with the cultural attache, who has also been able to offer assistance to the club.
With their first event deemed a success, the French Business and Lifestyle Club appears to be well on their way to achieving their goals and attracting campus Francophiles.