Andryn Arithson, top, Joni Klippert and Sarah Fitzgibbon join in at a wine and chocolate night held at The Peleton in February. Klippert has started a new Food and Wine Club at the University of Colorado.
CLIFF GRASSMICK
Andryn Arithson, top, Joni Klippert and Sarah Fitzgibbon join in at a wine and chocolate night held at The Peleton in February. Klippert has started a new Food and Wine Club at the University of Colorado.

Graduate students at the University of Colorado have found a flavorful way to relax thanks to one MBA student who founded the program’s first food and wine club.

Second year MBA student Joni Klippert, with the support of a few of her peers, began the MBA food and wine club earlier this year as a social outlet for students in her program to connect outside of the classroom.

As a food and wine connoisseur in the making, Klippert used her local industry contacts to create a fun and affordable way to help students connect with each other and Boulder businesses.

“Connecting over food and wine is amazing,” Klippert said. “And we all work incredibly hard as MBAs so the ability to slow down and socialize is really rewarding. Plus it’s a great way to support our local community.”

Local businesses work out special pricing and events for the Food and Wine Club like cooking classes and lessons about wine pairings and Klippert takes advantage of local specials, which make the events affordable for students.

“Whatever our budgets allow is how we determine the events,” Klippert said. “Right now we’re self-funded, so we choose things that aren’t too pricey for students.”

The club’s events are invite-only since space is limited and the goal is to connect students within the MBA program with one another. But faculty, guest chefs and restaurant owners are often invited to join in the fun.

Since the fall semester, members have enjoyed wining and dining at some of Boulder’s finest restaurants, including Salt and Fresca Food and Wine.

This weekend the group will experience The Bitter Bar first hand. On Saturday afternoon, 25 students will join bar manager Mark Stoddard for a two-hour class where they will learn to make an El Presidente, a classic mojito and an original mai tai.

Stoddard recently won the 2010 Cocktail World Cup as one of three Team USA members at the games in New Zealand, and will bring his knowledge of mixology down a couple of notches to teach the MBA students some basics.

“You’re doomed if you take things too seriously,” Stoddard said of cocktails. “This will be a fun way for the students to learn something that will be useful during their next party or event. (It’s) something different from what they do in the classroom.”

For $35, the students will not only mix and taste the three cocktails, but will learn the history of each drink along with some general tips like when to shake versus when to stir.

Rick Reed, a first year MBA student and frequenter of club events, will take over as co-president next year and plans to maintain the high expectations left by Klippert.

“I personally love food and wine for their ability to bring people together and act as a catalyst for lively conversations and memorable festivities,” Reed said.

The club joined forces in February with the National Association of Women MBAs to host the second annual Ladies’ Wine and Chocolate Night, which began last year in Joni’s living room.

“I invited some friends over and everyone brought either chocolate or wine and it was so much fun we had to do it again, only better,” Klippert said.