By Matthew Herrington – Collegiate Staff
A fundraiser for the Secchia Culinary program was able to raise over $18,000 in tuition assistance for Secchia Institute culinary students.
Rick Bayless, a famous American chef, and author made an appearance at the Aug. 31 event and provided students an opportunity to learn from his experience.
Despite only having five days to prepare, the fundraiser is regarded as a major success from staff and participating students alike.
This fundraiser started as a result of the conversations between chef Tim England of Beacon Hill, chair of the Secchia advisory board, and Werner Absenger, Program Director at Grand Rapids Community College.
In a celebration of a new addition to Beacon Hill, an event was being planned in which Bayless would make an appearance at Beacon Hill as a keynote speaker for the day.
England spoke to Absenger about the upcoming function and asked if GRCC would like to collaborate with Beacon Hill for this occasion, to which he agreed.
Beginning in the morning at Beacon Hill, Bayless held many interviews and conversations about his passion for the culinary arts, including a luncheon and panel discussion.
Later in the day, the chef came to the GRCC campus and held another panel of open discussion with England. In this, the culinary students from GRCC were able to directly ask questions and communicate with the chefs about various topics such as obtaining internships under Bayless’s programs, as well as how Bayless maintains his incredible passion for his craft.
After the panel with students, the fundraiser soon followed. Culinary students were given the opportunity to cook and serve dishes with local professional chefs to those visiting and participating in the event.
“Because we have a limited amount of students in these classes, we also were fortunate enough for Creative Dining to provide additional service staff to make the evening flawless,” Absenger Said.
Along with Creative Dining, there were many other sponsors who contributed to the fundraiser. The money raised was strictly dedicated toward providing tuition assistance for Secchia Institute culinary students.
“Along with Creative Dining, there were many other sponsors who contributed to the fundraiser.” The money raised was strictly dedicated toward providing tuition assistance for Secchia Institute culinary students.
Following the event, Absenger also reports positive feedback from both the students who participated in cooking and serving food, as well as the local chefs who were brought in to assist.
Absenger recalls one of the chefs from Creative Dining who said he greatly appreciated the help of the students. He commented on how flawless everything was from coming in, preparing the courses, and serving the food. Despite all the quick event planning that went on behind the scenes Absenger said he considers the event a success.
“It was a great opportunity for us to work with not only with Beacon Hill, but also local chefs, and bring in a world-famous chef, and expose the community to this person,” Absenger said. “This provided an opportunity for not only building a community through food but also companionship and information exchange.”