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Why did you join AXP?

I visited AXP for the first time during the rush period of my freshman spring semester. At the time, I was actually not even planning on joining a fraternity and rushed for the fun of it and mostly for the free food. What surprisingly happened is that I met a lot of brothers who were very down to earth which showed me a completely different picture of Greek life than I had previously imagined. My rush experience really changed my perspective on Greek life and influenced me to join AXP. Not only that, but also many of my best friends from my freshman year floor were also rushing with me, which ended up making for a very close-knit pledge class when we joined.

What has been your best fraternity memory to date?

When 20+ of us went to the Dominican Republic during spring break of senior year. I love traveling, and it was an absolute blast to travel with many of the friends I had made over the years. The sheer number of us who went on the trip was amazing in itself. My most memorable part of the trip is when we went on a boat trip excursion and sailed to a few different islands and snorkeled. We made up half of the group on the boat, so it was almost as if we had it to ourselves. It was an all-around awesome and unforgettable experience.

Tell us more about your interest in culinary arts.

Growing up, I had always been exposed to cooking because my mom and grandma cooked very often for us. However, I was never that immersed in it until my sophomore year, when I dropped the meal plan and was forced to start cooking for myself. I found out that I really enjoyed the creative aspect of cooking. From then on, I started copying simple recipes from watching videos and practiced them until I could execute more complicated dishes. The process of cooking is very therapeutic and relaxing to me, but the most enjoyable part is actually eating my own food at the end!

I also attribute my interest in cooking to my other passion of traveling. I've been fortunate to have traveled with my family to many different countries in Europe, Asia, and South America. To me, eating local foods is the absolute best part of travel. That said, cooking in my opinion is the closest you can get to traveling without actually leaving your home. My favorite cuisines to cook are Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French, and Italian.

Are you a chef at a local restaurant, or involved in culinary activities on campus?

This past year, another brother, Neil Zhang, and I transformed my kitchen and dining space into a pop-up restaurant called the Locust Street Supper Club. Every week, we would decide on a cuisine, post three-course menus online, and send out sign-up forms to our friends. We usually served groups of 8, but in some instances, up to 40 people. Our mission was to serve high-quality, homemade food at an affordable price. Neil and I procured all of the ingredients on our own and made everything from scratch whenever possible. We also had another brother, Lucas Siegmund, serve as our sommelier.

Despite the both of us lacking formal restaurant training, we were able to maneuver through the operational and logistical challenges of running a restaurant and serving three-course meals. One memorable moment of running the Locust Street Supper Club was when none of the nearby grocery stores carried the fish that we needed for our menu, so I had to place a special order at a seafood wholesaler in a warehouse district that sold exclusively to local Philadelphia restaurants - it was intimidating at first, but it turned out to be a rewarding experience.

You can check out all of our past events and photos here.

How often do you cook for your brothers?

Brothers of AXP are actually our most regular and loyal customers of the Locust Street Supper Club. Neil and I have really appreciated the support that they have given us during our venture.

Tell us more about Bistro AXP. What was served? How many did you feed?

Bistro AXP was a special edition of Locust Street Supper Club that was exclusive to brothers of AXP, as well as their dates, and held at our chapter house. Thanks to the alumni support over the years, our chapter house actually has a very nice and industrial kitchen that's well-suited to cooking for large groups of people. Because of this, Neil and I had always thought about running such an event, as we felt that a fraternity dining event, for brothers and by brothers, would be great as a brotherhood event. We pitched the event to the members of our Executive Board, and they were not only supportive of the event, but also offered to help procure the necessary equipment and dining sets.

Nearly 40 people signed up for the event, which was half brothers and half dates. Pledges also participated in the event by working as servers and line cooks. The menu was a three course meal: Caesar salad with homemade dressing and croutons, sous vide chicken served with pommes puree and roasted asparagus, and chocolate mousse with fresh whipped cream and shaved chocolate garnish.

Are you involved with any other activities or organizations on campus?

In addition to cooking, I'm also a very active freelance photographer on campus and co-founder of Penn Lens, our university's first and only photography club. It just so happens that photography and cooking go hand in hand, as I always take pictures of the cooking process and final dish. For AXP, I've also contributed my services to photographing some of our social events, including formals.

In your opinion, what makes AXP stand apart from other Penn fraternities? Why are you proud to be a member of AXP?

I really believe that AXP has one of the most tight-knit brotherhoods on campus. Personally speaking, I've lived with brothers since I joined my freshman year (with the exception of my junior year when I was abroad). I also think that AXP is one of the most diverse brotherhoods on campus as well; we have brothers from all over the world and of all different majors.

AXP is one of the two fraternities on campus to actually own our chapter house. Nearly all other fraternities have either moved off campus or belong to a university-owned chapter house. I am really proud of the fact that we have maintained our house for nearly 100 years already, and to me, it is a testament to the strength of our brotherhood. It shows that we have a powerful and extensive history that other fraternities do not.

How do you plan to stay connected with Phi Phi Chapter as an alum?

I've made lifelong friends in AXP that I will stay connected to no matter where in the world I end up. I definitely plan on coming back for my first Homecoming as an alumnus and for the chapter house's 100th birthday celebration! I also look forward to meeting future members of the brotherhood and offering my support to the chapter whenever possible.