Elizabeth Lear, ‘24, and world language teacher Holly Haycock display chocolate mice in reference to the Roman delicacy of dormice. Photo by Felicity Zhang

CCHS Multicultural Food Fest: A Celebration of Diversity and Heritage

By Felicity Zhang  CCHS ‘25, Junior Editor-in-Chief and Community Liaison for The Voice student newspaper
March 30, 2023

“All omelets should be Spanish omelets,” declared Sarah Annunziata, ‘24, holding up her tray filled with an assortment of appetizing foods. After a two-year disruption due to COVID, the Multicultural Food Fest at Concord-Carlisle High School made its much-anticipated return on the evening of Wednesday, March 15. 

The event was hosted by Class Government and made successful by the collective efforts of the entire CCHS community – students, families, and faculty. Ray Pavlik, faculty advisor for the event, estimated that over 700 people attended the fest, with nearly 50 countries and cultures represented through the dishes of more than 80 families and staff and a dozen local restaurants. 

The CCHS cafeteria was filled with students’ tangible excitement to display their culture and to explore that of their peers. (Besides, who can resist free food?) Tables lined all four sides of the cafeteria, exhibiting countless delicacies from all corners of the world, be it Latin American tres leches cake, Caribbean pholourie, or Japanese onigiri. 

Some recipes were reminiscent of countries from which members of the community had immigrated; others had been passed down through generations of familial pride. Community members wore traditional outfits as well. 

The tables were adorned with vibrant posters, flags, and decorations celebrating the history and cultural background of each dish and its corresponding country. 

The evening closed with three performances by CCHS students: Noah Zall, ‘24, and Benjamin Pixley, ‘25, singing in Latin, Stella Kaplowitz, ‘25, performing songs in Spanish and Italian, and the Chamber Orchestra playing arrangements of various cultural pieces.

“There are so many things I haven’t tried and they’re all delicious!” said Rebecca Finizio, ‘24.

Others embraced the comforts of home.

“The best thing I ate was my mom’s scallion pancakes,” said Michelle Gu, ‘24.

But the shared sentiment was undoubtedly awe and appreciation. “It’s really beautiful; I like it when humanity comes together,” said Mariana Cadavid, ‘25. “It’s like the whole world is in this room.”

The CCHS parent community was eager to contribute their efforts. Parent volunteers promoted their cooking, sharing traditions central to their families. Mahreen Hoda, parent of Nafeesa Hoda, ‘25, said although she had done multicultural fairs in Carlisle before, this was her first time participating in the food fest. 

“I love the energy,” Hoda said, “kids, parents, even some grandparents” enjoying the event together, because “anything multicultural is something that brings us all together,” especially food. 

“I thought we brought a lot of food, but we were done in half an hour,” said Hoda. 

Gretchen Hedlund, ‘25, echoed Hoda, “We ran out of onigiri only thirty minutes in!” When asked how she felt, she smiled: “Proud!”

CCHS faculty members shared foods from their own heritage as well. Science teacher Clark Whitney brought a pot of fragrant Ukrainian borscht soup. 

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to see my students in a completely different light,” he said, where they have a chance to “share a piece of them and their culture” that may be less highlighted in class.

The CCHS Green Team also promoted sustainability and responsibility for the Earth. They provided compostable trays and utensils, encouraging everyone to properly dispose of food waste. Faculty advisor Priscilla Guiney explained that the club was “excited to make a statement” at this year’s event “to not have these amazing nutrients go into the landfill and produce so much greenhouse gasses… and instead have it be picked up by Black Earth [a compost organization] so it’s incorporated back into the soil [to sequester] carbon.”

Behind the scenes, members of CCHS Class Government, led by students Isatu Fofanah, ‘23, Faith Clark, ‘24, and Lilly Soillis, ‘24, hosted the event. Soillis, Class Government’s secretary, said she missed the Fest during COVID and loves how the event “brings together so many different cultures.” 

“You could meet somebody of your culture that you had no idea also went to this school,” she said, something she’s experienced herself. Soillis said that “it’s a lot of work” because so much communication is involved. Despite the effort, she described that seeing “all these people… oohing and ahhing over everybody’s different foods” was gratifying, concluding that the event “shows how important community is to a town and a school.”

The atmosphere throughout the Multicultural Food Fest was invigorating and inspiring as the entire CCHS community came together to celebrate the flavors, textures, and colors of the community’s diverse heritage. It was a moment of recognizing and reminding ourselves that the shared appreciation and centrality of food throughout cultures is one of the most beautiful and intimate forms of connection.