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April 2013

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Gourmet Night
An Oz-some Evening: There’s No Night Like Gourmet Night
Some 360 alumni, faculty and friends of Hilton College were treated to a Wizard-of-Oz-inspired evening of fine food, fantastic beverages and bewitching entertainment at the 40th Annual Gourmet Night, held at the Hilton University of Houston on Saturday, April 6. This year, guests “came home” to the College’s signature student-run event that featured a Kansas-themed silent auction, a five-course dinner in “the Emerald City,” and special guest appearances by Dorothy Gale and The Wicked Witch of the West! A team of 13 student managers and 300 student volunteers executed the meticulously planned evening with precision, poise and panache, and the guests couldn’t have been more delighted. Kudos to the culinary and event wizardry of the student leadership team (Sarah Robinson, general manager; Daniel Capetillo, banquet chef; Annie Mauldin, sous chef; Jason Kaminski, sous chef; Cali Smith, marketing manager; Matthew Euresti, events manager; Mehak Adamjee, events manager; Niraj Bhavsar, silent auction manager; Eryn DeMora, silent auction manager; Eugenia Gonzalez, human resources manager; Sara Morrill, banquet manager; Jacob Ortiz, food service manager; and Patricia Srubar, beverage service manager), the student volunteers and the Executive Committee (led by “the woman behind the curtain” Erin Kenyan Oeser)! For more event photos, check out the College’s Facebook page. (Photos: Taylor Wiley; Logo: Katie Guidroz)
Hall of Honor
Hall of Honor: New Inductees, New Student Managers
The 18th Annual Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor week may not happen until the fall, but a new group of student leaders is already hard at work planning for the induction ceremony, reception and think tanks. On April 11, the students revealed the 2013 inductees: Sam Barshop, founder of La Quinta Inns & Suites and creator of the limited-service hotel concept; and Richard Melman, founder and chairman of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, a corporation that owns more than 80 restaurants in eight states. The 2013 Hall of Honor team includes (first row pictured left to right) Alexis Hoey, faculty advisor; Christine Sendelbach, events coordinator; Eugenia Gonzalez, general manager; Sarah Rennalls, marketing coordinator; Amanda Hu, events manager; (second row) Nam Nguyen, food & beverage coordinator; Jesse Nagelberg, think tank manager; Okechi Nwabara, think tank coordinator; Frances Guerrero, marketing manager; Kathy Zheng, human resources & archives manager; and Megan Gray, food & beverage manager. We look forward to honoring our new inductees and hope you’ll join us! Mark your calendars for the think tank sessions that begin on October 22, and the induction ceremony and dinner set for October 23. More details to come! (Photo: Taylor Wiley)
CVB Research
Scoping Out the Convention Competition
Three jet-setting graduate students and Assistant Professor Jason Draper are sizing up Houston’s biggest convention and trade show competitors by doing some good old-fashioned reconnaissance work! It’s all part of a series of case studies Dr. Draper has been working on since January for the Greater Houston Convention & Visitors Bureau. Dr. Draper (pictured above) and his team—(pictured left to right) Emily Bannwarth, Kelly Brant and Morgan Bellows—are focusing on Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Anaheim, Denver, Indianapolis, Atlanta, Nashville and New Orleans. To collect information for the study, the students are visiting each of the cities with a member of the Greater Houston CVB’s Board of Directors. The students are looking for information about the cities’ convention centers, the number of hotels and restaurants at various geographic levels, and transportation data—things like the number of airlines that fly into the local airports and total operations for the most recent year available. Dr. Draper said he recruited his team of students based on their interest in the events industry. Not your ordinary homework assignment, and what a great way to contribute to the Houston community! (Photos: Taylor Wiley)
Eric's Club

Veteran Hotelier Mark Hellrung Joins Eric’s Club
The newest member of Eric’s Club is Mark Hellrung (’76), a veteran hotelier with more than 25 years of hospitality experience with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts and Westin Hotels & Resorts. Currently, Hellrung is the general manager of the AAA Five Diamond Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas, a title he’s held since 2008. Hellrung returned to his alma mater from his home in Las Vegas to share his secrets for a successful career in the luxury hotel industry with students during the 24th Eric Hilton Distinguished Chair Alumni Lecture Series, held April 4 at Hilton College. The lecture series was created in 1999 by Professor Emeritus Clinton L. Rappole to bring accomplished alumni back to the College to establish a legacy of student encouragement and connectivity. After his lecture, Hellrung (seated) was presented with an Eric’s Club chair by fellow members of Eric’s Club, (pictured left to right) Al Gallo (’82), Clinton Rappole, Bob Cowan (’76), Chairman Marty Breverman (’74), Dorothy Nicholson (’77), Bob Planck (’71), Gregg Rockett (’86), Doug Brooks (’75), Nick Massad (’73), Ricki Oberoi (’86), Steve Goodman (’83) and Dean John Bowen. Kudos, Mark, and welcome to the club! (Photo: Michael Scott)


In a Class of Its Own: The Omni Experience
Aspiring young hoteliers are taking the Hilton College brand of experiential learning to a whole new level, thanks to an Advanced Lodging Management course and an exciting new partnership with Omni Hotels. The course, taught by graduate assistant Jeffrey Petizon in cooperation with the Omni management team, offers a select group of students the chance to get hands-on experience working rotating shifts in a myriad of departments at two world-class hotel properties, right here in Houston. Each Friday, the students—supervised by a Petizon—report to either the Omni Houston Hotel near the Galleria or the Omni Houston Hotel at Westside. Once they arrive, the students are each assigned to a shift in a different department —anything from Sales, Finance and Human Resources, to Housekeeping and the Front Office—where they spend the rest of the day with Omni employees, getting a behind-the-scenes, real-time look at day-to-day hotel operations. Pictured left to right are three of the students currently taking the class, Lynette Elad, Laura Edwards and Angus Ng. This is the second semester the course has been offered, and since enrollment is limited to 10-12 students, they have to apply for a spot. Dean John Bowen says he plans to offer the course every semester from here on out, not only to give exceptional students an unparalleled networking and learning opportunity, but also to continue to grow the relationship between the College and Omni Hotels. (Photos: Taylor Wiley)