ASUCI hosted the start of its five-day Fall Vendor Fair on Oct. 31. Numerous local businesses set up shop along a segment of Ring Road near the Student Center. Hundreds of students gathered around booths that sold various goods such as matcha crepes, carne asada tacos, handmade jewelry and bags, books, pottery, posters, t-shirts and stickers.
Preparations for the day began early. Julitza Alvarez, intern for the ASUCI Vendor Fair Commission, told the New University that organizers began setting up booths at 5:50a.m.
Of the many different types of offerings, food vendors seemed to be a favorite among students, including Alvarez.
One food vendor in particular that has garnered the attention and adoration of generations of Anteaters – Hummus Man Khaled Missaoui – was present at the event. “I do this market for almost 10 years,” Missaoui said, standing in front of a diverse spread of hummus, pita chips, Mediterranean salad and baklava. “I like the students, talking with the students. And people- they like my stuff.”
Khaled Missaoui, also known as Hummus Man. Photo by Jisup Bae / Simon Jeau / Staff
Hummus Man was not the only fan-favorite present at the event. Donning a neon blue wig and maid attire, 2022 alumnus Jason Jin said the main reason he returned to campus for the vendor fair was the bundt cakes.
“I’ve been buying bundt cakes every single time ever, ever since I found out about it at the end of freshman year … it is very good. It’s very moist. It’s not too chewy. It’s like the perfect quality cake.”
The creator of these cakes is Chris Monachelli, owner of the family bakery Dolce Monachelli’s. The business specializing in bundt cakes has spanned three generations, from Monachelli’s grandmother to his mother and now himself.
Regarded by some students as bakers of ‘the world’s best cake,’, Monachelli’s Monday offerings consisted of freshly-baked bundt cakes in about a dozen different flavors, ranging from pumpkin to unicorn.
“This is actually our 18th year here,” Monachelli said. “The reason we come back every single quarter is because you guys in part decide what food vendors come back in and you guys always have us and the hummus guy down the way. You always really support our businesses and want us to come back so it brings us back every time.”
An assortment of Monachelli’s bundt cakes on display. Photo by Jisup Bae / Simon Jeau / Staff
In addition to selling to students, Monachelli’s regularly hires between eight to ten students for its campus booth.
“We’ve had so many amazing staff that we’ve hired- the UCI students that have worked [with us] for a couple years or sometimes four or five years while they’re here … we just had somebody hired today and they’re like, ‘this is my first job.’. And so it’s kind of cool to start people off on their journey in the workforce,” Monachelli said.
Various non-food vendors were present at the event as well. From hand-woven tote bags to sterling silver rings, there was no shortage of personal apparel.
Third-year Emily Mercado, who like Jin also wore maid attire, proudly held out what she described as “a crocheted headband thing.”
“I can’t make this by myself. So I like that they had it and it’s pink and I like pink. It’s nice. I’ve been debating getting the cakes too but, you know, one thing at a time. This was $25,” said Mercado. She said that despite the high cost, she was “willing to pay [for] their time and money they put into it”.
Third-year Emily Mercado brandishes her pink crocheted item. Photo by Jisup Bae / Simon Jeau / Staff
ASUCI Vendor Fair Commissioner Dominic Beltran spoke to the New University about the event and said seeing students being open to new experiences is one of his favorite things about Vendor Fair.
“The interaction, just students seeing what’s outside of UC Irvine alone and just Irvine in general, but also just the fact that students are all so happy seeing and buying certain things … it’s just cool that they’re open to these new experiences and they’re seeing them,” said Beltran.
Simon Jeau is a Campus News Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.