From gourmet food to impeccable service, a gala dinner was the highlight of a two-day celebration held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in recognition of the University of Delaware’s Department of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management’s 25th anniversary.
Nearly 190 guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres in UD’s Daugherty Hall before moving on to a reception in the multipurpose rooms of the Trabant University Center, where they feasted on a four-course meal created by alumni celebrity chefs Maria Tampakis, class of 2008, Steve Giardini, 2004, and Scott Heckert, 2001, on Thursday evening. Chef Dana Herbert, 1998, winner of the TLC reality show “Next Great Baker,” created an anniversary cake.
Student wait staff lined the room while Bernd Mayer, dining room manager of Vita Nova, ensured the dining experience went according to plan.
Remarks by UD President Patrick Harker and Delaware Gov. Jack Markell highlighted the unique opportunities HRIM students have enjoyed.
"HRIM is a terrific example of the kind of discovery learning we value at UD," said Harker. "The program connects theory and practice with the real-world needs of the hospitality industry. It's not surprising that nine in 10 HRIM students are employed when they graduate, or that they work with some of the best hotels, restaurants and companies around the world."
“The way this program makes sure that students get all this work experience and opportunities while they are here at the university is really fundamental to the success you’ve had, and it’s the same kind of thing that we’re seeing across the economy,” said Markell.
Markell also pointed out the important role the hospitality industry plays in Delaware. “Hospitality is a $2 billion industry in the state of Delaware that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes at the state and local levels, “ he said.
Michele Rollins, chair of the HRIM Advisory Board, noted that it was the vision of several university officials that made the program possible. She cited the late E. Arthur Trabant, former UD president; Alexander R. Doberenz, dean of what was then the College of Human Resources; David E. Hollowell, former executive vice president and treasurer; President Emeritus David P. Roselle; and Paul R. Wise, founder of HRIM.
Jessica Baran, a 1998 HRIM graduate, gave an alumni keynote address after the dinner service. Baran was most recently vice president of resort sales at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Prior to joining Foxwoods, she was the director at the Atlantis, the world-renowned Kerzner International convention facility and casino in the Bahamas and the senior national manager of the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.
A silent auction on Friday evening raised more than $8,000 on items ranging from tasting and meal packages at local businesses like Paradocx Vineyard in Landenberg, Pa., to overnight stays in St. Augustine, Fla., and historic downtown Newport, R.I., donated by the Shaner Hotel Group.
Alumni returned to campus share their experiences in the classroom on Thursday and Friday and led class discussions and demonstrations. Amar Tailor, 1992, Adam Forman, 2005, Bill Galbraith, 2001, and Joshua Kling, 2009, talked to students about beverage management; Katie Newkumet, 2007, spoke with students about property engineering; Lori Gumnitz, 2000, and Kristin Bartholomew, 2009, visited a marketing in the hospitality industry class; Mac Ashby, 2009, William Woodson, 2008, and Meagan Tosh, 1997, reviewed management of food and beverage operations; Nicole Bailey presented an introduction to hospitality; and Erin Wren Proud, 2000, talked to students about executive presentation.
Also on Friday, Ken Whitney, senior adviser of the investor relations and business development group, and William Stein, senior managing director and global head of asset management in the real estate group, both at Blackstone, a leading global investment and advisory firm, delivered a keynote address.
Current HRIM students later had the opportunity to connect with alumni during a networking event that featured a taste of Newark with foods from Bing’s Bakery, Capriotti’s, Chipotle, Margherita’s Pizza, Newark Deli and Bagel, and Buffalo Wild Wings along with chef Mark Chopko’s award-winning mini crab cakes from Marriott’s Courtyard Newark at UD.
“HRIM has an outstanding reputation for hospitality business education on campus and around the world,” said Sheryl Kline, HRIM department chair. “On behalf of our students and the entire department, we are grateful to all our industry sponsors, alumni and friends for their support and efforts that helped us get here, and we look forward to creating the next 25 years of excellence in hospitality education.”