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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hospitality Shindig!


Hospitality Shin-Dig

Ivy Tech Community College is a wonderful place to learn (at least for me it is).  I’ve stretched my brain in ways I didn’t know were possible.  I learned to re-connect with my passion for writing and I discovered a new yearning for the visual arts through my video presentations for various classes.  Most of all, I learned that I will be a pretty good chef someday as I have achieved Suma cum laude (with highest honors) status at the culmination of my collegiate career.

Ivy Tech's Hospitality program is rather diverse.....

......offering not only culinary skills but event management, baking, etc.

I have also succeeded in continuous improvement during my externship at “Cypress” restaurant in Charleston, SC by satisfying Chef Craig Deihl’s mantra of “working harder – working faster!”  He would scream this in my ear while working in front of customers at one particular event during the Charleston Food + Wine Festival.  I accepted his misguided intent of bravado and showmanship with aplomb and grace while under fire all the while putting out the food in a concise and appealing manner.

Chef Craig Deihl ( two-time James Beard nominee)

Stepping over obstacles and sometimes leaping over them is a requirement in this profession that is more passion than job.  I am but a novice upon the completion of my studies yet I’m drawn to more abuse as long as I can glean more experience and knowledge from it for useful purposes down the road.

Externing at Cypress restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina

Ivy Tech. recognizes these tough times and encourages the passion for learning by providing a smooth patch that can come in the form of a shoulder to lean or cry on; an instructor that understands that each student learns at a different pace; an instructor that takes an interest in your other associated proclivities like culinary writing or food styling/photography…..whatever the needs are; Ivy Tech seems to rise to the occasion and that’s why each and every year the Hospitality Dept. holds a reception for impending graduates that celebrates our success be they small or large.

Program Chair - Chef Jeff Bricker (A source of inspiration for me!)

During this reception we all receive medals with our concentration of study engraved in them as well as a seal of the “Ivy” logo.  It is a very nice piece of hardware and one that I am very proud of; it is a symbol of the hard work that has gone into being a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at Ivy Tech. Community College.

A great day for Hospitality students!

This event is also an opportunity for the Table Service, Garde manger, Pastry and Cake Decorating classes to be involved by providing the food for the guests.  Take it from me, the students knocked this one out of the ball park.  I was struck with a bit of sadness as this event signifies an end to what was a very rewarding and extremely fun time for me.  I will miss college life very much but it is now time to start a new journey and put to test the skills I’ve developed and the knowledge I’ve realized during this two-year sojourn.

Chef Thomas England (A great mentor!)

Seeing all my fellow class-mates milling around the crowd snazzily dressed in their chef whites and newly adorned with their culinary medals is very heart-warming to me and my chest is swelling with pride not just for myself but for my new-found friends and burgeoning chefs that will set this town on its ear by discovering new culinary offerings, methods and flavors as well as becoming instrumental in the community reaching out to help where they can.  I am proud of these students cum graduates and am hopeful of great things from them maybe even from myself as well.  We’ll see?

 The folks you meet along the way of any journey will impact you in ways you never thought possible.

I have been lucky to meet phenomenal folks during my culinary schooling that I'll treasure for many years to come!

Always stay positive and always be professional is my mantra and it has served me well and I hope it continues to do so.

Family and friends are paramount to anyone's success...thank you Cristal, Gary and Anne

Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)

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