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Saturday, July 28, 2012

April in Paris


April in Paris

There is an event held every year at colleges and college departments called the “fund raiser”.
This event at Ivy Tech has a name and it’s “April in Paris” due to the theme being classical French food and ambiance.  This theme originated from a trip that is taken every year by the Hospitality students to France to experience the food culture of this magnificent country.  

With Katie and Karen

Over the years things have progressed as the European region offers many, many diverse culinary traditions and flavor profiles not to mention traditions and cultural distinctions worth celebrating.  This is why the trips now vary in destination offering excursions to Spain, Italy, Germany and yes, France.

Students are, generally, a poor lot unable to pay for such a fantastic trip so they need help and this help comes in the guise of donors that give money to the program enabling young (and old) culinarians to travel abroad and understand what they’ve been studying in labs and class rooms over the past two years.  This trip gives them a better awareness and appreciation of how food has progressed and became what it is today because of what it was so far ago.

With Karen, Joel and Tina

The methodology in-and-of-itself is a main focus of how food is prepared for flavor, style, appeal, safety and variety.  This methodology has roots abroad and discovering these roots can be an epiphany for an aspiring chef to create wonderful things once returned home.  This trip and the associated monetary gift has a name called I.C.E.E. which stands for International Culinary Educational Experience. 

This endeavor is one of great privilege and perseverance because the selected student must achieve a certain amount of points in a system that measures criteria like community involvement (volunteerism), school involvement (Student Ambassador), class participation/citizenship (Instructor evaluation), overall decorum and a respectable GPA worthy of sending one abroad.

A fantastic crew of volunteers; many of whom I've become good friends!

During this event students from classes are graded on their performance as this is always a final practical exam for “Classical Cuisines”, “Table Service”, etc.  Students are also strongly encouraged to volunteer for this event because funding for other aspects of the program are procured at this event as well.  

Bonds of friendship are forged here because a generous mix of hospitality disciplines assimilate into a homogeneous mass of pupils, apprentices and learners that become a well-oiled machine pulling off a dinner/auction that is regarded as one of “THE” social events of the season.  It is always a success which is a testament to the fine teachings of the wonderful staff at Ivy Tech.

Having some fun at the "April in Paris" fundraiser

I was part of this spectacle last year and this year as well and played two entirely different roles.  Last year I was in the back-of-the-house doing my chef thing plating dishes as they were whisked off to benefactors of the program.  This year I was a Student Ambassador greeting guests in the front-of-the-house and enjoying every minute of the experience.  

 First of all …. I’m a bit of a chatty-Cathy who loves to schmooze with guests; secondly, I met an amazing array of “new” friends that will last me a lifetime.  I’m truly blessed to have these folks in my life because they will provide me with contacts, alliances, closeness, camaraderie, familiarity and a network that looks out for one another.

Goofing off after a great night!

Our chemistry on this night was unmistakably pure, delightful and charismatic and it showed to the guests in attendance.  My new-found friends are folks that I will cherish for many years to come and I consider myself to be a very lucky man to have met them all.  We have been in weekly contact and plan on having a reunion of all the “helpers” that bonded that evening.  It’s kind of silly to remark on a bunch of volunteers that like one another so much that we want to reunite but that’s the power of hospitality students and the power of this industry that I treasure so much.  Stay tuned….I’ve always got more!

Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)

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