French Fête

Hospitality management students host fine-dining fundraiser

By ARVIN TEMKAR, USF NEWS Posted Wed, 09/26/2018 - 13:45

For future restauranteurs and hospitality professionals, it couldn’t get much more hands-on than hosting La Fête de la Gastronomie, an international fine-dining fundraiser that brought the Bay Area’s finest French chefs to Lone Mountain.

The sold-out event was produced by students in the Hospitality Management Department’s Corporate Event Management class for L’Apero, a food and wine meet-up organization from the Bay Area.

The dinner featured nine chefs, each with their own food station from which guests could taste small signature dishes. The food stations were complemented by samples of bread, cheeses, charcuterie, desserts, and wines and French champagne from Bay Area merchants.

“It was amazing,” says hospitality management student Elizabeth Crocker ’19. “The whole class worked well together, and it was a really successful event.”

The fête raised more than $4,000 to benefit the St. Ignatius Shelter Meal Program, run by St. Ignatius Church.  

Grow confident

Working alongside alumni dating back 20 years, students in the class, co-taught by USF professors Thomas Maier and Jean-Marc Fullsack, a chef, oversaw the food station setups and general decor, ordered linens for the tables, and coordinated and executed the event. 

For Crocker, the experience was invaluable.

“I want to be an event manager, and go into an events team for a company or an agency,” she says.

Crocker wasn’t only behind the scenes as an organizer. She served food at USF’s food station, which featured salmon and soup prepared by Fullsack. There she had a taste of what it’s like to work with diners — an experience the shy senior might once have been daunted by.

“The hospitality management department and my classmates pushed me and helped me grow into being a more confident person, which ultimately helps me be better at my work and allows the guests to have a better time,” she said.

Perfect preparation

Students will go into a variety of careers and this event and others like it are perfect preparation, said Maier. 

“They can be a restaurant GM — we have an alumnus who does just that,” he said. “They can be a VP of a major global hotel brand. They can have their own event company. They can be a catering director for a restaurant group or luxury hotel. They can have a job in wine sales and distribution.”

Students will have more chances to fine-tune their organizing and leadership skills at two more events this semester.

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