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appetizer ideas for dissertation defense

  • t
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Hi folks,
I'm defending my dissertation on Wednesday evening, and as per the unwritten protocol of my program, I must provide food for the event for my committee. Yes, it is rather unfair that the candidate actually has to feed the professors considering all the stress the candiate is already under, but I suppose with higher ed comes higher stress!;)

Anyway, I'm looking for some interesting ideas for things to serve to four people, along appetizer lines, that 1) requires little prep work, 2) is relatively cheap, 3) can be transported/assembled easily, and 4) is a little different or unique to impress my professors (just in case my research isn't enough!). I thought maybe prosciutto-wrapped melon and/or figs, but then I flat ran out of ideas, which is understandable considering I've also got to prepare my presentation!

As far as I know, no one has any food "issues". And I wont really have access to anything other than the department microwave to heat stuff.

Any creative appetizing ideas out there????

Thanks in advance!

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  1. what's the subject of your dissertation? can you use it as a theme for the food?

    3 Replies
    1. re: mark

      Hmm... My diss is about Mexican/Mex-Amer. teachers, but I just fear that using Mexican food would be too "kitchy"--particularly since the grand message of my work has to do with avoiding stereotypes and broad generalizations about culture. And chips and salsa/guacamole is just too obvious, and over-done. Unless there is a Mexican dish/appetizer that would be a little more unique and special.

      1. re: tachis

        Make ethnically blended foods... like bagel pizzas, or exotic quesadillas filled with more French or American ingredients like blue cheese and pears and walnuts, or Mexican lasagna (less appetizer-y).

        1. re: Emme

          I would strongly suggest avoiding anything of Mexican influence in this case. There is nothing to be gained, but you risk the possibility that the professors will find a Mexcian food theme banal and low-class, as well as the fact they may unwittingly judge your food on its authenticity. Personally I find themed parties, especially food oriented theme parties to be contrived and somewhat annoying.

          I would just throw a tray together of fruits and cheeses.

    2. As having to provide food for my thesis defense (seems to be a universal phenomenon), I say to keep it simple. Provide some light snacks and drinks, but don't worry about impressing your committee w/ your culinary skills too much. No hot food or things that are too messy. From my experience, people don't eat that much.

      I completely agree that you shouldn't do anything theme-based or forcedly "ethnic", particularly given your topic and crowd. Norms across depts. or institutions vary though, so the best advice will probably come from your peers. Ask what they brought.

      I personally would provide two snacks that people can nibble on, one savory and one sweet, and some beverages. I would probably go w/ a cheese plate w/ some fruit and crackers as well as bake something like a lemon loaf cake or banana bread. If you don't bake, then buying baked goods from your favorite bakery is perfectly fine! For beverages, bottled water and sparkling juice is nice.

      Best of luck w/ your defense and hopefully you'll be drinking some champagne later that night!!!

      1. I'd give them sugar as a mood enhancer. I'm sooooo not kidding! Have you ever noticed the effect in a movie theater? Chocolate for the same reason. And a little juicy fruit since it's the season. And something savory/salty but not too crunchy/loud -- maybe salted nuts. I would not cook, and I certainly would not serve Mexican snacks for reasons already suggested. Even if you got something out of the ordinary like grasshoppers from Oaxaca, it would make you look like a grade school show and tell.

        Good luck!

        2 Replies
        1. re: pitu

          I like the sugar/chocolate idea. How 'bout warm chocolate (microwaves are great for this) and strawberrys?

          I think stay away from the ethnic theme idea it could be seen as kitschy.

          Good luck.

          1. re: pitu

            I brought chunks of quality Belgian dark chocolate from the bulk foods section to my dissertation. I described them as non crystaline solids - this was in a geophysics department.

            paulj