There was no mystery to the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences’ Nutrition event, “The Magic of Food and Fitness” on Tuesday. There was magic, food and, that’s right, fitness.
“For CAAS week they try to have a day for every major, which isn’t really possible because there are so many majors,” said Meghan Graham, a sophomore in nutrition science and social event planner for CAAS. “Today is nutrition day, so that’s why we had the cooking competition earlier. It’s kind of like nutrition mixed with health so that’s why we have the Zumba, and then the magician is kind of just for entertainment.”
Graham said the magician was a popular attraction at last year’s CAAS event.
“We just wanted somebody that would entertain everybody and make it magical,” she said.
Magician Jason Porter has four years of experience in making things magical. He said a good friend was last year’s CAAS week magician and Porter became involved with the event through his mentor in magic, Richard Hatch, who was contacted by CAAS week program coordinators. Porter said he wanted to be a magician from a young age.
“I’ve been interested since I was a little kid,” Porter said. “You know, every kid sees a cool magician doing cool things on TV and decides that’s what they’ve got to do.”
It was not until recently that he made a profession out of it.
“I kind of fell in and out of it a lot,” Porter said. “Over the last four years or so, I decided to get a little more serious about it. I started taking lessons with Richard Hatch, started competing, started actually performing.”
That’s when Porter found his signature angle of magic.
“I started realizing that every magician has to have their thing,” Porter said. “I kind of mixed it with another passion of mine which is anything medieval basically. I started performing medieval magic, which through weirdness evolved itself into steampunk magic and now I just do normal magic, if there’s such a thing.”
Considering himself a classic magician, Porter performs illusions such as card routines and linking rings.
“Just about every trick that was performed before the year 1600, which is a bizarre thing to say, but that’s what my focus of study has been,” he said.
Porter said his favorite part of performing magic is the reaction of his audience.
“I like seeing people’s reaction when you completely break their concept of how reality works,” he said. “You can see in their mind that they cannot figure out that there is no logical way you just did what you just did. It kind of brings them out of reality even for just a moment … lets them escape it for a second, in a safe way.”
Rachel Farmer, vice president of community service for CAAS and a junior in family and consumer sciences, said having a magician helped tie the food and fitness facets together to complete the title of the event.
“We had the food competition earlier today which was really fun, and they hired a Zumba instructor for the fitness aspect of the theme for the day,” Farmer said. “I think the magician is another side, a fun source for entertainment.”
Dining Services sponsored the cooking competition and donated a two-block meal plan to every participant and a ten-block meal plan to the winner, Heidi Bringhurst, a senior in dietetics, who prepared zucchini crisp. All entries were desserts.
“This year they changed it to just desserts,” said Daniel Taylor, a junior in management information systems. “It was a salad or a dessert, but I was the only one that would’ve made a salad and I would’ve won and so they didn’t want that, so they just did desserts.”
After witnessing the competition last year, Taylor said he got enthusiastic about cooking and decided to compete this year.
“I cooked a fruit cocktail float made with graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk and fruit cocktail,” he said. “It’s actually a Christmas dish in the Philippines.”
Taylor said he learned the recipe while serving an LDS mission in the Pacific island.
“When you eat three meals of rice a day, there’s some pretty good tasting sweets, and it’s really easy to make. You cook with what you have.”
The fruit cocktail float was an upgrade from his first cooking experience, Taylor said.
“My first meal in the Philippines, my first week, we went to buy groceries,” he said. “They asked me what I wanted to buy and I bought tomatoes and eggs. They asked me what I wanted to make with tomatoes and eggs and I said I don’t know. That was the lowest. I’ve improved a lot since then. … I specialize in tropical dishes, rice-based meals.”
At the time of this interview, the competition results were not yet announced, but Taylor remained positive.
“I didn’t see all the other entries,” he said. “I’m not sure if I’m the only guy. Everyone else I’ve seen so far is female, but it’s fine.”
The cooking competition took place in the Hub. Three judges, including a professional chef, sampled and rated the entries, Graham said.
In addition to the competition and magician, a Zumba instructor held a free session and CAAS clubs set up booths in the TSC Ballroom.
“It’s kind of like day on the Quad,” Graham said. “I think the biggest point of CAAS week is the College of Agriculture wants retention,” Graham said. “They want to keep their students interested in the College of Agriculture and they also want to interest students of other colleges. They want students to have fun, too.”
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