culinarty teams

Seven culinary teams comprised of visiting high school students competed in a Market Basket Challenge during Stephen F. Austin State University's hospitality administration program's Cooking Up Careers event.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Stephen F. Austin State University's hospitality administration program welcomed approximately 200 high school students to its second Cooking Up Careers event on Friday, April 15.

The event was designed to introduce SFA and the program to high school students who are interested in taking hospitality and culinary courses.

"It was wonderful having more than 200 students on campus to experience our hospitality program firsthand," said Dr. Chay Runnels, SFA hospitality administration program coordinator and associate professor. "We are one of four hospitality four-year programs in the state, and the only program with a culinary focus. The students who attended were able to learn about career options in the industry and college life at SFA."

Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of SFA's James I. Perkins College of Education, and Blake Loggins, the Lumberjack mascot, welcomed students before the festivities began. Janet McLeroy, assistant director of admissions, and Brittany Fish, SFA hospitality administration graduate, spoke with the participants.

During the event, students were divided into groups and attended two 45-minute sessions. Industry professionals delivered a session on careers in the hospitality industry and discussed how to make a positive impression during and dress for a job interview. Panel participants were Bric Alverson and Ryan Russell from Aramark; John McLaren, The Fredonia Hotel general manager; Marty Prince, Texas Forest Trail executive director; Jessica Gilligan, sales manager at Courtyard by Marriott in Lufkin; and Claudann Jones, Nacogdoches County AgriLife Extension agent.

Eight SFA seniors also conducted a session and discussed college life at SFA, choosing a major and how to successfully transition from high school to college.

High school teachers in attendance were invited to attend two sessions, which informed them about SFA, how to help their students prepare for college, and new and existing resources available to teachers.

As the sessions were convening, Todd Barrios, chef and clinical instructor at SFA, hosted a Market Basket Challenge with seven culinary teams in the Human Sciences North Building lab. The East Texas Restaurant Association awarded $600 to the top culinary teams. Challenge judges included Roger Lumley, owner of Pappasito's in Tyler and current president of the East Texas Restaurant Association; Bob Westbrook, retired restaurant owner and past president of the East Texas Restaurant Association; Chef Jack Bretzke, East Texas Chef's Association member; and Chef Jackson York, chef of Lakeview Methodist Conference Center and Texas Chef's Association Chef of the Year 2010.

Participating high schools included Carthage, Diboll, Marshall, Hallsville, Beckville, Union Grove, Gilmer, Alba-Golden, Pine Tree, Lufkin, Winona and Nacogdoches.