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Food and Dining

The Ocho: Apartment Dinner Party Locale

One Sunday morning, I was looking for a brunch place on Yelp when I stumbled across what seemed like a new, highly rated restaurant called The Ocho. Intrigued, I read the reviews, excited that something passably edible had finally come to Westwood. Instead, I found a mock “restaurant” run by Sunny Singh, the Bruins United presidential candidate from 2014 and a fourth-year history and economics student, in conjunction with his roommates. After some back and forth, I visited Singh and his friends/roommates, fourth-year psychology student Michael Ruder and fourth-year sociology student Patrick Cody-Carrese, after the end of one of their regular dinner parties on a Monday evening.

Though none of the trio plan to pursue cooking full-time after graduation this quarter, they still plan to keep the spirit of The Ocho alive by continuing to throw dinner parties in their post-college lives.

If you want to create your own Ocho-style experience, keep a few things in mind:

  • Be collaborative in the kitchen. There’s no need to put all the pressure on yourself as the gracious host and chef.

“We’re very competitive with our dishes and sometimes we make recommendations, like adding a little less salt, but all in all we want to see each other improve and make the best dish possible.”  – Cody-Carrese

  • Be creative in the kitchen and don’t just follow recipes from online.

“We always try to keep it different. We never serve the same dish twice.” – Cody-Carrese

  • The most important thing is the people you’re breaking bread with.

“It’s always great to be able to spend time with friends, to partake in a meal together. It’s like Thanksgiving every time (we host The Ocho).” – Singh

“I think the main ingredient in any delicious dinner party is the people. You gotta have the right people coming in order to make a good dinner party.” – Ruder

“Share your stories like you share your food” – Cody-Carrese

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Arts & Entertainment

While You Were Studying: Top Stories of the Week

The week may have just started, but already so much has happened. So rather than opening more cluttering tabs next to MyUCLA and Facebook, I have summed it all up right here for you on one page. If you’d like to dive deeper, just click the link.

1. Sometimes you need to take a two-minute-and-35-second break from all the stress and just watch a video that is mindlessly entertaining. So to kick things off here is a video that has gone viral. [YouTube]

2. Remember this?

Kim K regretfully forgot to add these “Khloe’s journey to jail” selfies to her new book “Selfish,” so the entrepreneur herself is planning on releasing a special edition copy.  [ELLE]

3. After 14 seasons, American Idol announced that after one more season in 2016, it will be ending its production of golden tickets and concluding its presence on reality television. It’s been a good 13 years, but let’s be honest, can anyone actually name all the winners because the only guy I remember is William Hung. [The Huffington Post]

4. Sofia Vergara will be on a six-episode series called “Vergaraland” on Snapchat. We’re not exactly sure how that will work, but do we care? It’s Sofia Vergara, for goodness sakes. And if Joe Manganiello makes an appearance, you know we’ll be all over that. Ten seconds is clearly not long enough. [Variety]

5. And last, but certainly not least. You’ve seen it a million times and even had a mini-freakout when Emily Blunt and Anne Hathaway reunited on an episode of “Lip Sync Battle” but now your most unexpected dream is coming true: The Devil Wears Prada is becoming a musical. There is no word on who, what, where, when or why, but let’s be honest, it doesn’t matter. Just the fact that it’s even in the works is fulfilling enough. []

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Mojo Asks Students

Mojo Asks Students: Yes or No to #MeatlessMondays?

You may have noticed that the some of the UCLA dining hall services, most notably Bruin Plate, have adopted the trend of Meatless Mondays. Other University of California organizations, such as UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara and even Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center have been supporting Meatless Mondays and Beef-less Thursdays. The movement, promoted by the student group Bruins for Animals!, is built upon the idea that foregoing meat for dinner once a week benefits us in many ways, to live a healthier, more cost effective and environmentally conscious lifestyle. On the other hand, some have argued that limiting meat options on Monday dinners restricts choices.

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It’s an ongoing debate. Here’s what feedback we received when students on the Hill were asked about the subject.

  • “People are missing out on some of the best things in life: chicken tacos. Additionally, humans were meant to eat meat or else we wouldn’t have canines.” – first-year undeclared student Fiona Riddle.
  • “It’s discriminatory and insensitive towards meat lovers.” – first-year undeclared student Temuulen Maral-Erdene.
  • “I think it’s a great idea! B-Plate is all about providing healthy, sustainable food, and it wouldn’t make sense if they did not recognize the value on health and the environment by skipping on meat for a day or maybe more. And it’s funny to see people freak out.” – first-year theater student Kira Morling.
  • “It’s a great idea with a great purpose. People underestimate the drought situation we’re in, and this promotes it. It’s only once a week too, so it’s not the end of the world.” – second-year psychobiology student Cameron Ajamoud.
  • “I’m a growing girl! I have weak bones and I really could have used some chicken in my salad today.” – first-year psychobiology student Ellie McCartney.
  • “Everyone freaks out about this. It’s once a week, calm down everyone. It saves a ton of water, like a lot. Not having pork chops or chicken once a week is not going to ruin your life but rather help California be California again.” – first-year chemical engineering student XiaoPeng (Steve) Chen.
  • “In order to be satisfied with my meals I need to have a little protein. I’m upset and feel like I don’t really have anywhere to go for dinner since B-Plate is my main place.” – first-year human biology and society student Jennifer Karsli.

  • “I don’t mind it. I don’t eat a lot of meat anyways since the lines are too long.” – first-year theater student Irene Jeong.

Recently, some students were confused by Bruin Plate’s online menu as some of the Monday dining options showed meat, but when Bruin Plate staff were asked about the confusion, they explained that the website had not been updated due to the new transition. Sure enough, #meatlessmondays will continue until the end of the quarter.


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Office Hours

Q&A with Professor Rojas, 2015′s My Last Lecture Award Recipient


Randall Rojas’ teaching ability may inspire students in a way beyond the scope of most instructors at UCLA, but the decor in his Bunche Hall office is as unexciting and ordinary as most professors’: a shelf of books, a metal filing cabinet, a desktop monitor. Awarded this year’s My Last Lecture Award, the only faculty award chosen by students, Rojas is famous for his varied academic interests: from pursuing a doctorate degree in physics at Drexel University to teaching statistics, cosmology and currently, economics. His biography states he enjoys canyoneering and spending time with his family, and it also gives an overview of his educational pathway from beginning college at 15 to the completion of his doctorate degree at Drexel University.

At the same time, biographies don’t capture everything. Curious to learn more, I sat down for a quick chat with professor Rojas to go beyond what a quick skim of the My Last Lecture page could gleam. How did this man who moved easily between the subjects of physics and economics, but still made time to be an excellent teacher, come to be?

Is there anything about you that you feel isn’t accurately represented in your autobiography? I am actually very accessible, and I feel like students don’t realize that until they come to office hours. With 400 students in a course, it can be very difficult to feel comfortable (in speaking to me). I do ask and do try to remember names. Students are often surprised when I remember little details, like them getting their wisdom teeth removed the week before. All in all, I am quite approachable and actually pretty silly. Maybe they get some of that from class too? (In class), I try to not be as serious and make for a relaxed learning environment.

Who was your memorable lecturer throughout your long university education? How has that impacted you? Well, I had two. First, I had a professor (at Universidad de Costa Rica), Antonio Madrigal. He always believed in distilling complex things to the core and presenting things in a very simple fashion. I think it’s a great thing to be able to do this, and it’s not always easy. I’ve definitely inherited his teaching style. I find myself teaching a lot of different concepts like econometrics and time series. (With Madrigal),  I saw the value and beauty in bringing things down to a simplified level.

In a more comical fashion, his approach was to make it seem like something seemed fun and light-hearted, even if the concepts were incredibly difficult. Adding a humor element distracts the students and then they can enjoy the process of learning more. In graduate school, my quantum mechanics professor, Lorenzo Narducci, (at Drexel) taught me that you truly need to have a passion for teaching. He was an expert in the field, but he also had a passion for teaching. He cared about every single student, showing genuine concern for students. It was really an eye opener for me. I could go to him and ask any question, and he wouldn’t trivialize them.

How do you feel about your shift from a focus on physics to economics? Do you still feel like physics is part of your life? I’ve tried to reconcile what I’m doing now with my love for physics. If I don’t understand something in economics, I have to translate it into physics for it to make sense, as strange as that sounds. In that regard, even if I don’t teach physics,  I exercise it everyday. Just because you don’t teach it, the training and skills I have learned  still help me daily.

I never would have imagined I would be teaching economics today. Back then, I thought that my lifelong passion would be physics. As you grow older, you eventually realize that things happen differently, and that you really have to be open and flexible to those changes. I saw this as an opportunity to teach new material. This reconciling (of my interests) is where my research lies currently, the intersection of physics and economics: econophysics. (Econophysics is the application of physics theory to financial markets.)

Dr. Rojas gives his “last lecture” on Tuesday, May 12, in De Neve Auditorium, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are free through the Central Ticket Office, but seating is limited. To read a recap of Rojas’ lecture, pick up a copy of Wednesday’s Daily Bruin.

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