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Hospitality Students Take Leadership Role in Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair 3/27/2013

10,000 guests expected to attend 10th anniversary of Texas' largest culinary festival

HOUSTON—For the first time in the 10-year history of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair, a team of student managers from the University of Houston's Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management is taking a leadership role in the planning and execution of the region's largest culinary festival.

Located in historic Sugar Land, just minutes from Houston proper, the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair—with its chef-prepared delights, fine wines, tastings, dinners, cooking demonstrations and seminars—is one of the most-anticipated culinary attractions of the year and is expected to draw about 10,000 guests over five days, from April 24-28.

Hilton College has been a beneficiary of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair since the festival's inception in 2003, with students volunteering in various capacities at individual festival events. But this year, the College is taking a more active role, working as a producing partner with the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce and putting a select group of students on the front lines of the planning process. Under the guidance of faculty advisor Krystal Peay—2010 Hilton College alum and director of the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair—the students are getting a first-hand, real-world look at the logistics of event planning and food & beverage management.

Over the past three months, the eight-member student leadership team has taken on a myriad of responsibilities, including booking travel for out-of-town chefs; drafting proposals for bands; recruiting wineries, breweries and restaurants; social media marketing; enlisting student volunteers; ticket management and sales; sponsorship fulfillment and organizing the more than 300 wines from all over the world that will be poured at the festival.

"This event gives our students the opportunity to personally connect with the culinary and beverage community and gives them insight into the inner workings of a large-scale affair," Peay said. "The students have an excitement and a passion for the industry that is contagious, and the participants are drawn to that. We're thrilled to offer our future hospitality leaders the opportunity to work directly with the leaders of today."

Proceeds from the Sugar Land Wine & Food Affair support a permanent scholarship endowment at Hilton College.

Tickets for the festival are still available and can be purchased online at, or over the phone at 713.747.9463. Additional information and updates are also available at

Taylor Wiley