By Neale McDevitt
For Oliver de Volpi, the biggest fear he has these days is that, on Aug. 28, the Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator will put on his best Maxwell Smart voice and announce, “That’s the second-biggest fruit salad I’ve ever seen.”
De Volpi, McGill’s Executive Chef is one of the people spearheading McGill’s attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for largest fruit salad ever created. It is an initiative De Volpi can sink his teeth into. “Not only is this going to be a really fun event that brings together students, staff and faculty from across the McGill community, in the end, it will benefit a host of local charities.”
The Guinness Book of World Records’ title of largest fruit salad – at 10,400 pounds – is currently held by California State University at Fresno. The goal for the McGill salad is between 11,000-12,000 pounds.
More than 250 volunteers will face the challenge of chopping more than 5,000 pounds of watermelon, 1,300 pounds of cantaloupe, 1,000 pounds of honeydew, 2,250 pounds of pineapple, 220 pounds of apples and 360 pounds of strawberries, among other components. The team will start chopping at 12:30 at the Parents’ Tent on Lower Campus. The salad will be put together in a small swimming pool on a large platform and at 5:30 the Guinness World Records adjudicator will preside over the official weigh-in.
To minimize the carbon footprint, more than 50 per cent of the fruit will be harvested from the farm at McGill’s own Macdonald Campus, home of the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.
De Volpi says that the exposure Mac farm will garner because of this event is a good thing. “We try to promote the importance and benefits of eating locally to our students and what better way for them to sample Mac produce?”
And for any who are tempted to raise a hue and cry about the waste produced by such an endeavour, De Volpi would tell them not to cry over spilt fruit salad – because there won’t be any.
“Right from the outset, the goal has always been zero waste. Once we’re done, we’re handing out the salad to everyone at the event, many of whom will be first-year students and their friends and families,” says De Volpi. “The rest of the salad – thousands of pounds of it – is going to be donated to some 10 local missions, including Old Brewery Mission, Welcome Hall Mission, Meals on Wheels and Dans la Rue. It will feed people who don’t always get the chance to eat fresh local fruit.”
Every bit of waste – including peels, rinds and even the cups the fruit salad will be served in – will be composted, some by McGill’s own Big Hanna industrial composter and the rest by the City of Montreal. “When I say zero waste, I mean none,” says De Volpi. “We’re not even planning to put extra garbage cans on site.”
The event, led by McGill Food and Dining Services, in collaboration with a myriad of partners, is part of McGill Orientation Week, which runs from Aug. 25 to Sept. 2.