re connect

re connect

TAs and Fellows Back in the Kitchen After Decades
JWU Magazine 2011 Spring ReConnect TAs Fellow 230x160

"Kevin Duffy, dean of the College of Culinary Arts in Providence, beams with parental pride watching two dozen former teaching assistants and fellows making themselves a buffet luncheon at a reunion in April at the Harborside Campus in Providence.

“Hey Jimmy, you look like you know what you’re doing,” he teases JWU Associate Provost Jim Griffin, EdD, ’88, ’92 MS.

Set in motion by Keith Boston ’85, with the help of former program administrator, Barry Vogel ’83, now North Miami Campus director of administration, the day’s events included the group lunch, a tour of many changes on the Providence Campus and an evening reception at the Culinary Archives Museum.

The alumni reuniting were teaching assistants and fellows during the 1980s, when the program was in its formative years. They worked alongside chef instructors, bridging communications between students and faculty. “They were our retention program back then, the best of the best,” Vogel says. “They made an impression on our students.”

Though culinary TAs, this was also the group that “opened” JWU’s first practicum properties: the Gustatorium, The Rhode Island Inn (now the Radisson) and the Johnson & Wales Inn in Seekonk, Mass. “They helped create the history of success that has grown to let us become the leader of today,” says Vogel.

Duffy, a faculty member in the late 70s when the first teaching assistants and fellows took to the kitchens, notes the ease and interaction around him.

“It’s tremendous the bonds they formed,” he says. “Just to see them walking in after 20 years is exciting. There are a couple hundred years of experience here.”

“We had a group that made amazing contributions to the College of Culinary Arts,” Vogel adds. “We didn’t always have time to acknowledge people’s contributions in the 80s while the university was growing. This is overdue.”

JWU Magazine 2011 Spring ReConnect Advices 170x150Returning to Offer Sage Advice
By Shannon Robbins

In the five years since its creation, Alumni Leaders Week has established itself as a valued JWU tradition. “I love Alumni Leaders Week, and I always enjoy interacting with the students. We should have more of this type of activity,” declares Eric Singleton ’99, director of food services for Village South, who returned to the North Miami Campus to speak to culinary students about his food service career.

Alumni Leaders Week is a special occasion for both participating alumni and current students. “Sharing my knowledge of the business and the various things I have done in the industry meant all the sweat, tears and back-breaking days and nights I have put in over the past 19 years have been well spent,” says Steven Steltenpohl ’97, chef at Discovery Diner at Epcot Center.

Meeting with successful JWU alumni inspires students to believe that they, too, can succeed in their chosen field. “Student engagement was generally high,” notes Terrence Williams ’89, VP of human resources and organizational development at The New York Times. “I encountered many students who were very passionate about their JWU experience, and I believe that they will ultimately succeed if they learn how to harness this passion.”

Participating alumni used the occasion to offer advice, such as travel-tourism graduate Luisa Mendoza-Chavez’s ’03 rules to live by: “One, never forget where you came from and those who help you along the way; two, remember to always pay it forward.”

Some also used the time to recruit students for employment. Canteen Catering LLC owner, Mary Fabrikant ’04, made a couple of great student contacts for internships next year and catering assistance throughout the summer while at the Denver Campus.

Now a perennial spring favorite, Alumni Leaders Week is sure to continue expanding in the future.

A shining example of JWU’s focus on career education, alumni and students alike appreciate the opportunity to share real-world experiences. “Johnson & Wales is much more than a college,” explains Providence Campus grad Anthony Ippolito ’99. “Yes, it teaches students the fundamentals needed to pursue a chosen career path, but the life experiences learned make for a better overall person of tomorrow. Johnson & Wales does that.”