It's week nine, and it's time to dine. But not in Northwestern's dining halls (buh-bye!) or even one of Evanston’s restaurants (less enthusiastic goodbye). No, tonight we'll be enjoying a three-course dinner far, far away from the harshly lit armpit of Sargent Hall. It's time for Mixologist Spenser Huang, Chef Tracy Guo and Baker Szu-in Lim’s new pop-up restaurant event: a 'by students, for students' culinary experience that you definitely want a seat to. 

Gianna Chan

How the event came to life

Huang, Guo and Lim are all passionate about food and eager to share their respective culinary talents with the Northwestern community. While they usually create drinks, cook, or bake independently, they decided to collaborate for this event.

The idea to host a pop-up restaurant came about due to its rise in popularity over the last few years. Huang (center) said he thought a pop-up restaurant would allow him, Guo (left) and Lim (right) to learn about waiting tables and presentation, as well.

Gianna Chan


Before the event on November 30, Huang, Guo and Lim chose to focus their menu around the theme of Fall cuisine. Guo and Lim achieved this by utilizing pumpkin as their primary ingredient. Huang contributed to the seasonal theme with drinks that complimented the warm flavors in the food.

Because Guo was serving pumpkin risotto with bacon-wrapped scallops for the main course and a flatbread for the appetizer, she felt the meal playfully incorporated an Italian flair. She reflected this inspiration through the name of the menu, “Terra & Mare,” which translates to “land and ocean” in Italian.

The three students conducted a test-run of each dish and drinks in the weeks leading up to the event. They practiced making everything on the menu and how to plate the food. Guo and Lim said they even tested out recipes on their families over Thanksgiving break.

Gianna Chan

Time to dine!

The three courses, along with their accompanying drinks, created an intimate, autumnal atmosphere for the meal. The timing between the courses was spot-on, allowing diners to appreciate each dish and drink for its unique flavors.

Huang, Guo and Lim were busy in the kitchen all night and were amazing hosts. They chatted with diners about the inspiration behind the dishes and drinks, talked about the ingredients in each, and never failed to refill a half-empty water glass.

The highlight of the event was tasting Huang, Guo and Lim’s beautifully presented creations. Everything was incredible and almost too pretty to devour.

Ashley Lee

The Menu


Food: Fig and prosciutto flatbread with arugula, mozzarella and parmesan cheese, and sesame seeds.

Drink: “The Woo,” a blend of calvados, apple juice, lime juice, maple syrup and plum liqueur.

Gianna Chan

Main course

Food: Pumpkin risotto with turkey bacon, scallops, maple sausage, kale, parmesan cheese, onion and mushroom.

Drink: “The Mule,” a combination of vodka, ginger beer, mint syrup, lime juice and mint.

Gianna Chan


Food: Marbled pumpkin cheesecake with a salted graham cracker crust, cranberry glaze, candied pecans and pumpkin seeds.

Drink: “The Earl,” a mixture of Italicus liqueur, earl grey tea, honey and cloves.

Gianna Chan

The masterminds behind Terra & Mare

Mixologist Spenser Huang

Going home to Taipei, Taiwan the summer after his freshman year at Northwestern, Huang brought a group of students together who were studying abroad in his neighborhood. He hosted events at popular bars in the area and spent a lot of time at a bar called Wootp. Huang returned to Wootp when he went to Taipei for spring break during the spring of his sophomore year. He quickly became friends with Wootp’s bartender, Anthony Chou. Huang said it was Chou who sparked his interest in crafting cocktails and taught him that doing so is an art-form to be appreciated.

After meeting Chou, Huang created a bar called Nuance that he runs out of his apartment in Evanston. When he hosts events at his bar, he creates a three-course menu of drinks. Each drink tells a story, most of which are inspired by Huang’s travels to places like Puerto Rico, in addition to the collection of alcohol he's acquired across the globe.

Gianna Chan

Huang proposed the idea of hosting a pop-up restaurant to Guo and Lim in September 2018. He said he loves creating opportunities for people to showcase their talents, especially people like Guo and Lim who know so much about their respective fields.

Gianna Chan

Chef Tracey Guo

In high school, Guo wanted to make a change to her nutrition and fitness. She became interested in healthy cooking, eating and exercising, all of which she incorporated into her lifestyle. But ice cream doesn’t taste as good as broccoli, so Guo focused on how she could make healthy food delicious. She cooked often while attending high school in Portland, Oregon, as well as at home in Beijing, China where she was born and where her family still lives.

In Guo’s sophomore year at Northwestern, she applied to Le Cordon Bleu for cooking school. She was accepted into the summer 2017 semester, and attended Le Cordon Bleu’s basic program in Spain. She said she got a crash-course in fundamental cooking skills and spent long hours in the kitchen. Guo learned everything from knife skills to creating different stocks.

Coming back to Northwestern, Guo wanted to practice her skills on a regular basis, but couldn’t because she didn’t have time. Thankfully, pop-up restaurant events and other student food collaborations are the perfect opportunity for her to practice her technique. Above all, Guo said she loves serving people her food and seeing them enjoy it.

Baker Szu-in Lim

Similar to household names like The Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, and Momofuku Milk Bar’s Christina Tosi, Lim started baking after time spent in the kitchen with her family. She said her mom loved hosting dinner parties, but never knew what to do for desert. Lim’s mom would often buy pastries at the market in her hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, but found that they were too sweet for her liking. That’s where Lim stepped in, baking fruit pies and dark chocolate babka for her family and friends.

From there, Lim fell in love with the science behind baking. The chemical reactions that occur between ingredients and how different techniques affect a dish’s flavor fascinated her. She researched about this and found it to be her creative outlet.

As a student at Northwestern studying neuroscience and living on campus for her freshman and sophomore year, Lim didn't have the opportunity to bake much. But moving off campus solved these problems, and Lim said she has been baking often as a junior this year. One of her favorite things to bake is blueberry lemon cheesecake and she always reads bloggers’ recipes for inspiration.

What's next for this culinary crew?

The week after Spoon NU attended Huang, Guo and Lim's pop-up restaurant, the three students hosted two additional events. They were all a huge success. The crew hopes to host events more during winter quarter.

If you're interested in attending an upcoming event, contact

Ashley Lee