Home Featured News Restaurant Week benefits scholarship for culinary students

Restaurant Week benefits scholarship for culinary students


Proceeds from the third annual Restaurant Week Grand Rapids will once again benefit an endowed scholarship program for the students of Grand Rapids Community College’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.

During Restaurant Week, more than 60 participating restaurants offer three-course dinners at a price of $25 dollars from a menu of “farm-to-fork” dishes, according to Experience GR, the event’s organizing company.

Dan Blanchard, a former GRCC culinary student, hands off a finished plate at Bistro Bella Vita.

“When you pay $25 for a meal, one dollar of it goes to the scholarship fund,” said Andy Bowne, Associate Vice President for College Advancement. Over the past two years, $39,000 has been collected, surpassing the endowment of $25,000 to begin awarding scholarships.

“In the future, two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded to students who have completed their first semester in the culinary arts or culinary management programs,” Bowne said.

Experience GR involved GRCC’s culinary program with Restaurant Week from the beginning of the event. Organizers say the scholarship will fund the future of Grand Rapids’ culinary scene, since so many of the culinary students go on to work in local Grand Rapids restaurants.

Crystal Blaskis, Dining Room Manager of Bistro Bella Vita, holds a tray of dishes from the Restaurant Week menu.

“Early on in the planning of Restaurant Week, we saw the value of partnering with the Secchia Institute because of the value of the food community,” said Janet Korn, Vice President of Marketing. “They’re educating the talented workforce of foodies.”

Daniel Gendler, department head of the Secchia Institute, is very thankful for the merit the community sees in his program.

“We feed the local businesses with a trained and talented work force and the local restaurant scene feeds our program and students with job opportunities,” Gendler said. “We thank all the local restaurant participants immensely for this opportunity.”

Terri and Steve Marsh of Grand Rapids are enjoying their Restaurant Week dishes at Bistro Bella Vita. “Anything you can do to help a college student is fabulous,” Terri said.

One participating restaurant, Bistro Bella Vita, employs GRCC culinary graduates who are happy to be involved in giving back to the program, one of them being Luke Theater.

“I think that any help we can give to help students pursue their passion is really great,” Theater said. “I would have been thrilled to have help. I’m still paying for culinary school.”

Some of the other participating restaurants include Grove, San Chez Bistro & Café, Mangiamo!, Louis Benton Steakhouse, and Blue Water Grill. The event started Aug. 15 and goes until Saturday.


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