It’s been about a year since the first time I tried hummus, courtesy of the talented teams that took part in the Hummus Experience. It only makes sense that I honor this momentous occasion by indulging myself Wednesday night in even more hummus at the Ninth Annual Hummus Experience, hosted by UConn Hillel and Huskies for Israel (HFI). This event tasks participating teams with creating their own unique twist on hummus for a panel of judges to rank, with all proceeds going toward HuskyTHON. The winning team out of over ten, Logan’s Team, won a year’s worth of free hummus courtesy of sponsor Cedar’s Hummus, thanks to their “Shrek”-themed green hummus with flavors like lime, onion and avocado.
“We joined because we love hummus and I saw that the prize was Cedar’s Hummus, and that’s our favorite kind,” Thomas Rober, a seventh-semester journalism major, said. He, along with Amanda Kelly, a seventh-semester marketing major and Alexis Dinkel, a seventh-semester allied health major, formed the Chickpea Chicks. Their fresh tomato basil hummus was one of my favorites of the lineup.
“We ended up doing some sort of tomato basil kind of theme and we have a secret ingredient,” Rober said. “We put in pomegranate seeds for a little bit of flavor and crunch at the end … it’s been a fun experience, we literally felt so under pressure, like we were on ‘Chopped.’”
Teams, represented by fun hummus-themed names, were given half an hour to concoct their own hummus creations with a copious amount of ingredients at their disposal. Some teams were methodical in their recipes, grabbing ingredients of similar flavor profiles, like cilantro and lemon, while other teams were at more liberty with some obscure ingredients like marshmallows and pumpkin. Maple syrup, avocado, hot sauce and breadcrumbs were just a few more of the other ingredients teams incorporated into their hummus.
“I really wanted to join because hummus is great,” Sarah Hubelbank, a third-semester elementary education major, said. She is part of the Hubba Bubba Gums, along with Dean Segal, Damani Douglas and Brandon Jones, which placed fourth overall with their spooky-themed hummus that featured a plethora of sweet ingredients you wouldn’t normally see near a tub of hummus, but still proved to be a crowd-favorite to place in the top five.
“I guess I wasn’t expecting the results we came up with, but I’m happy with them. Our hummus features chocolate sauce, some Bamba, strawberries, sprinkles, sugar, cinnamon, all that good stuff,” Hubelbank said.
After the allotted time, participants and spectators were able to sample the teams’ hummus concoctions and had six tickets to vote on their favorites. The top five teams of the audience vote were then presented to the judges and scored on a scale by the panel. The Hummus Slinging Slashers were crowned runner-ups by half a point with their spicy hummus featuring feta and tomato paste. Other members of the top five included Hummus Is Where the Heart Is, with a spicy buffalo hummus with fresh peppers, and the Hummus Homies, with a Mexican-inspired hummus with avocados and salsa.
Planning for the event started about eight weeks in advance, led by Ryan Murace, a fifth-semester student and Daily Campus grab photographer who serves as vice president of programming on the Hillel Student Board.
“I think it went really good, it seemed like a lot of people were having a good time,” Murace said. Besides picking up all the ingredients earlier this week, they were also in charge of retrieving the 35 pounds of hummus used in the competition. “I’m really happy with how it went.”
One of my favorite teams from last year competed again this year, but unfortunately, their avocado and red pepper creation didn’t make it to the next round. However, they know they will competing again next year.
“The reason why we decided to do it again this year is because we enjoyed the competition last year. It was a lot of fun,” Matan Doron, a third-semester biology and individualized major, said. Micha Aviad and Hannah Farrel are the other members of the team, the Hummusapiens.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t make it into the top five…in the end, it’s about the community, it’s about the competition, it’s about the love,” Doron said.
Hollie Lao is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.