School of Hospitality Management Monthly Update:
July 2008

This Monthly Update from the School of Hospitality Management at Penn State serves to keep you informed and interested in the news as it happens - for alumni, industry, faculty & students.

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First group returns from Study Abroad

Inaugural trip to Puerto Rico is success

Twelve students of hospitality management returned from the inaugural Study Abroad trip to Puerto Rico claiming the program a great success. The students were accompanied by Karthik Namisavayam, professor-in-charge of International Study Abroad for the School of Hospitality Management and Instructor in Spanish Tom Houston.

In addition to classroom lecture, students took field trips to Aramark operations, resorts, restaurants in Old San Juan, as well as fun trips to Vieques Island; Luquillo beach, and Bioluminescent Bay. HRIM student Stephen Rowe said the trip to Bioluminescent Bay was the most exciting part. Tiny organisms in this unique environment create a mysterious blue-green light when agitated. “It was something I had never seen before,” he said.

Students also toured four resorts – El Conquistador, La Concha, Ritz-Carlton, and Condado Plaza – and had the chance to work at an ARAMARK facility.

Rowe said that the students found El Conquistador, the region’s leading destination resort, stunning. The resort is built on a cliff and has its own water park, golf course, and island.

"The trip to Puerto Rico was a great introduction to Latin American culture,” said Namisavayam. “It was also an excellent place to learn about resort operations first hand.”

Students on the trip were:

  • Lace Abel-Bey
  • Nilraj Chudasama
  • Lori Greszczak
  • Kishan Kansagra
  • Katrina Lee
  • Rachel Louie
  • Leaada Marshall
  • Stephen Rowe
  • Pamela Salva
  • Billy Shen
  • Shannon White

Rowe also counted cultural awareness as a top learning experience. “If you plan to work in a different country you have to be ready to adapt to these differences and understand what the people want, need, and expect,” he said. “We learned about the Puerto Rican culture and how it differs from our own.”

image of students in Puerto Rico

Rebound: Paul Bocuse

Five HRIM students and their instructor, Lesley Scamacca, traveled to Paris and Lyon, France, from May 23 through June 4.The students explored the City of Lights over a weekend before traveling to Lyon to study at the Institut Paul Bocuse.

The program consisted of courses taught by Paul Bocuse staff and Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) chefs in gastronomy, pastry, sugar sculpting, cheese, and cooking. Students who attended the trip are:

  • Erin Derr
  • Kristen Foster
  • Erinn McCully
  • Melinda McQuiston
  • Matt Rahenkamp

“The students who attended are true foodies,” said Scamacca. “We were so lucky to have three MOF chefs instructing us.”

“These chefs truly changed our impression of the traditional French chef and enhanced our love of food and cooking even more…if that's possible,” she continued.

MOF designation, which signifies excellence, is depicted with the red, white, and blue stripes on a Chef's collar.

Bert Van Hoof, director of the School of Hospitality Management sees the program as a spectacular opportunity to study French culture and cuisine.

“It is an amazing opportunity for students to explore a foreign country and learn cooking techniques from the masters,” he said.

Scamacca praised the Institut Paul Bocuse as very accommodating to Penn State students. “Everyone we worked with was incredibly helpful and generous,” she said. “I hope to take even more students next year.”

In addition to the French experience, students earned 3 HRIM elective credits for HRIM 497G: French Culture and Cuisine.

image of students in France

Alumni meet in Pittsburgh

On June 8, a contingency of faculty and their families traveled to Pittsburgh to meet alumni and friends of the HRIM program. PSHRS members Tom Martini and Kelly Loomis hosted at a lovely Blue and White Brunch at the Westin Hotel and Conference Center. SHM faculty and staff in attendance included Bert Van Hoof, Beth Egan, Rosemarie Hibbler, Jeff Heim, Paul Howard, Angel Johnson, John O'Neill, and John O'Donnell. After the brunch, 52 of the 59 who attended the brunch walked over the Sixth Street Bridge to PNC Park, voted the most beautiful baseball stadium in America. “The Pirates looked great and beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 on a scorching Sunday in the summer,” said Pirates fan Rosemarie Hibbler, who attended with her two children. “It really turned out to be a great day in the Steel City,” she said. “That is, unless you’re a Diamondbacks fan.” Hibbler said she heard many reminisce about their good times at Penn State, their career path now, and their desire to stay connected and to meet again next year.

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Bert Van Hoof, director of the School of Hospitality Management, was excited to participate in more of these types of events in the future. “It’s so exciting to see everyone interacting and having a great time,” he said. “The spirit of hospitality really shows up at these informal gatherings.” PSHRS plans many more such events in the future…so, keep reading those Updates!

Chicago Show

Gathering industry leaders, educators and top students from more than 100 restaurant and culinary schools nationwide, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) joined forces with founding partner The Coca-Cola Company and presenting sponsor Ecolab, Inc. to host the 21st Annual Salute to Excellence Awards Gala. This highly anticipated event, which celebrates the best and the brightest in the restaurant and foodservice industry by spotlighting esteemed leadership and extraordinary academic accomplishments, took place on Saturday, May 17 at the Hilton Chicago, kicking off the 89th National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show. More than 2,200 exhibitors showcased their products and services to 71,500 industry professionals from 115 countries. This year the International Wine, Spirits & Beer (IWSB) Event revealed the hottest trends in the restaurant and hospitality industry today — as well as a window to the future.

Faculty and staff Jeff Heim, Rosemarie Hibbler, Paul Howard, Angel Johnson, and Scott King; Director Bert Van Hoof; and students Addison Bartlett and Pat Thomas met up with several PSHRS members at an alumni reception held at the Art Institute of Chicago. As in previous years, the group was joined by faculty and alumni from Oklahoma State University, Delaware State University, Niagara University, University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Penn State students Crystal Neill and Trevor Swope took first and second place, respectively, for the Entrepreneur of the Year Scholarship. Neill was awarded $7,500 and Swope was awarded $5,000 toward their education at Penn State for their winning essays.

Highlights of the weekend included the 21st Annual Technology Dinner @ NRA at Fulton's on the River, hosted by Rob Grimes and Accuvia. Others attended a dinner at Pappadeux, hosted by Pappas Restaurants, a reception at the Sears Tower, and dinner at J. Alexander's Restaurant.

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Sweet and Sour

The Penn State Center for Food Innovation, which develops and tests products for the food and food-service industries, was featured in the Centre Daily Times recently in an article entitled “The sweet & sour of food science.”

The Center, directed by Pete Bordi and located in Mateer Building develops and tests different recipes in the research lab. Among the many items tested in the center’s kitchen and sensory lab and evaluated by faculty and students in nutritional sciences, hospitality management and other departments are French fries, doughnuts, salad dressing, energy drinks, sandwiches, pasta sauce, mints, and even water.

Food companies and restaurants turn to Pete and his colleagues for consumer feedback and advice on nutrition and marketing before products reach store shelves or restaurant tables.

“In many cases, we’ve reformulated products because of the feedback given,” says Connie Tolbin, a marketing director for the international food corporation Cargill.

Coming from a third party, she said, study data confer credibility on her company’s products and formulas. Companies finance testing through membership fees, part of which sponsor a graduate student, and pay for individual projects. The center’s research findings are published in academic journals.

For the complete story and photos go to:

Penn State volleyball teams visit White House, meet president

Members of the Penn State men’s and women’s national championship volleyball teams experienced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on June 24, 2008 when they traveled to the White House and met with President George W. Bush for NCAA Champions Day. Three of the student athletes are enrolled in HRIM. Dennis DelValle, Ann Naylor and Kelsey Ream enjoyed a tour of the East Wing of the White House with their teams before individually meeting with the President.

The president chatted with each group, asking about the season and their championship, where the student-athletes were from and what they planned to do in the future. The team captains then presented the President with a gift – a Penn State No. 1 volleyball jersey signed by the team and a red, white, and blue volleyball – before taking a group photo. The teams were then escorted to the Blue Room of the White House before being formally announced to the South Lawn, where they descended the stairs to a reserved seating area. The captains of each of the eighteen national championship teams in attendance were then escorted to a stage in front of the group and the President joined them, speaking to the crowd and recognizing each team for their accomplishments. For photos, visit For the transcript of the President's remarks and video of the event, visit

Wildes selected as a faculty fellow in the Rock Ethics Institute

Academic excellence is best ensured through faculty who are committed to the development of original and creative scholarship.
-- Rock Ethics Institute, Penn State

image of Wildes

Vivienne Wildes was selected as a faculty fellow in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. Fellows at Rock Ethics attend seminars over the course of one year with the intent of supporting research and dialogue on issues and concepts integral to ethical awareness and inquiry. Rock Ethics aims to invigorate the intellectual lives of faculty fellows by providing an interdisciplinary and collegial context for developing enriched avenues of ethical inquiry. Wildes is interested in the idea of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and how hotels and restaurants can be held accountable for their share of the carbon footprint. Vivienne’s comments are available at the Rock Ethics Web site:

Meals that Matter

State College Area Meals on Wheels, Inc. celebrated the preparation and delivery of the 1,000,000th meal on Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Since 1971, this not-for-profit agency has delivered meals each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to homebound residents in the State College region, regardless of age or financial need.

The executive director of State College Meals on Wheels is Anna Carol (Stafford) Buffington, RD, LDN('67 FS HA).Anna Carol has served in this capacity since 1988. The celebration event took place at Grace Lutheran Church in State College which provides kitchen facilities to Meals on Wheels. The featured guest speaker was Enid Borden, president and CEO of the Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA). Also, Harrah's Entertainment Foundation presented a new cargo delivery van to State College Meals on Wheels, one of just several trucks to be donated this year by Harrah's to MOWAA members across the nation.

Other Penn State HRIM alumni involved in this much-needed meal delivery program have been Mike Conti,past president of the board of directors, as well as many student volunteers from both the Penn State HRIM and Nutrition majors. Retired HRIM Professor Jim Keiser is one of the drivers who has helped at Meals on Wheels for many years.

Cooking Up a CURE for Brain Tumors, Volume VIII

Share your favorite recipes and have them published in an upcoming cookbook as part of the Grey Ribbon Crusade Campaign. The Grey Ribbon Crusade is a unification and awareness campaign for a cure for brain tumors. Lisa Kaminsky-Millar ’89 HRIM began her efforts as a result of losing her brother to the devastating illness in February 2001.

To date the cookbooks have raised over $40,000 for brain tumor research at major brain tumor centers. The cookbooks are a compilation of recipes donated from all over the country with special dedications to honor those affected by brain tumors, cancer, or other illness and/or to honor a loved one.

The books are sold during the holidays to raise funds for brain tumor research.

Submit a recipe today at and include, your: name, city, state, year of graduation, recipe title, ingredients, method and dedication of less than 300 words.

To order or view books visit

Conti Professor honored by AHLA

Fred DeMicco, ARAMARK Professor of Hotel, Restaurant and Institutional Management (HRIM) at the University of Delaware, was selected by the Educational Institute of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) as its 2008 recipient of the Lamp of Knowledge for Outstanding United States Educator. The award recognizes those individuals who have made the most effective use of the Educational Institute's independent learning program. It was presented on June 11 at the Grand Ballroom in the Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City. DeMicco teaches courses in international management, food service management and leadership, with research in the areas of cost control, total quality management, gerontology and managed services.

Alumni News

Instructor and alumnus Paul Kelley ’77 FS HA, ’81g BUS opened his new restaurant, Tennessee BBQ, in Levittown, Pennsylvania, in late May 2008.

Ralph Evans ’57 FS HA received the Distinguished Alumni Award from Penn State in June 2008. The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor bestowed upon Penn State alumni by the Board of Trustees.

Tom Scarola ’01 HRIM will start a new position at Hauppauge Middle School, Hauppauge Long Island, New York. After finishing his HRIM degree, Tom attended Queens College. He teaches Family & Consumer Science (which includes cooking, finance, career, community service, family, clothing management, design and personal development).“It is, by far, the most rewarding job I have had,” says Scarola. It is because of my professors at Penn State that I entered the field of education, and hope I can impact the lives of children in as positive a manner!”

Michael Vieregge ’99g HRIM has accepted a position at International Management Institute (IMI) in Lucerne, Switzerland. Michael was formally dean at César Ritz in Glis, Switzerland.

Sharon Molofsky ’03 HRIM was recently promoted to catering sales manager for the Renaissance Charlotte Southpark and the Charlotte Marriott Southpark in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has been with Marriott for almost three years in a sales manager position at Courtyard.

Scott T. Pullman, CMP ’96 HRIM was recently promoted to director of national accounts with Loews Philadelphia Hotel. His previous title was national sales manager at the hotel.

Peter Gillette’86 HRIM just opened Foodie Catering, Inc. in Orlando, Florida. Peter’s company specializes in corporate and social catering. The Web site is Prior to opening his own business he was at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel for almost fifteen years. “I know there are several alum in the Orlando area and invite everyone to give us a try,” he says.” Hopefully the Monthly Update can generate a few leads for Foodie Catering.

Martin Grabias, PHR ’00 HRIM recently received Professional Human Resource certification. He is currently the assistant director of human resources at Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport.

Emily Hancock ’05 HRIM was promoted to multi-unit account executive with Sysco Central Alabama. Emily has been with Sysco for over two years, starting as a marketing associate. “I became interested with Sysco Corporation when I was introduced to Debbie Ulrich during a HRIM 430 dinner,” said Emily. “It all comes back to the Penn State Hospitality Program!”

Innovative Hospitality Solutions (IHS), co-founded by Matt Mundok ’91 HRIM and Gary Gunderson, celebrated its second anniversary on July 1, 2008. IHS provides foodservice management advisory and design services consulting to Fortune 500 companies, college and universities, hospitals and cultural institutions. Their Web site is

Coral (Kostopolus) Zelachowski ’04 HRIM recently started a new job with Compass Group as a recruiter for their Chartwells K-12 division. Before working for Compass, Coral was manager of recruitment with Eat’n Park Hospitality Group in their Cura and Parkhurst divisions.

Jonathan Bach ’06 HRIM was recently promoted to night manager at the Four Seasons Washington DC. Previously he was hotel assistant manager with the same hotel. Bach says he “enjoys the night life and…. I love my job!”

Ryan Chrissis ’99 HRIM was recently promoted to marketing director for Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., (PNK). Ryan has been with the company for four years and works at corporate headquarters in Las Vegas.

Ryan is charged with designing and developing a state-of-the-art centralized reservation center, an all-inclusive contact center handling approximately 6,000 inbound phone calls per day, along with up to 200 customer emails to book hotel, golf, spa, dining, entertainment and special event accommodations. Pinnacle Entertainments has casino properties in Nevada, Louisiana, Missouri and Indiana.

Prior to working for Pinnacle, Chrissis worked for the Sands in Atlantic City, now owned by Pinnacle. He was on the charter team that opened Borgata in 2002 and has worked in various positions to include: casino services manager, director of VIP services, and director of player development.

Darla Finch ’95 HRIM was promoted to the newly created position of manager, strategic planning and marketing for Prince Resorts Hawaii.

Darla has been with Prince Resorts for eleven years. Previous positions include director of wholesale travel sales and reservations manager for Prince Marketing Corporation.

Jason Ingram ’01 HRIM is now general manager and chief operating officer Hollywood Golf Club in Deal, New Jersey. Formally, Ingram was assistant general manager at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey, where he helped organize and run the 2005 PGA Championship.

Josh Gavish ’05 HRIM has been promoted to assistant vice president of development for Il Mulino New York. He will start his new position in July 2008. Josh has managed the fine-dining restaurant since 2005 at the San Juan, Puerto Rico location. In his new position he is responsible for opening four new locations in Atlantic City, Atlanta, and Aspen.

Il Mulino New York (all locations have the same name) serves northern Italian cuisine with restaurants in Manhattan; Long Island; Washington, DC; Chicago; Miami--Sunny Isles; Las Vegas; San Juan; and Japan. They will roll out a new concept, Trattoria, in Orlando.

Ed Friedman ’95g HRIM and Robert E. Poole ’72 BUS have formed a partnership with others to purchase the majority interest in the Carnegie House, a twenty-two unit inn located in the Toftrees area of State College.

The Carnegie House was first opened in 1994.Mr. Friedman said that the new owners have plans to expand the dining room, add a spa, and make interior and exterior improvements.

Emily Bell ’03 HRIM is now the California sales manager and wine educator for Ehlers Estate. Ehlers is a Napa Valley winery.Emily is also a freelance food and wine writer.

John C. Timmerman ’08 2HRIM was promoted to corporate vice president of operations for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company where he will support the divisions of rooms, food and beverage, culinary, purchasing, and CRM functions. In an excerpt from the announcement, John was praised for his outstanding leadership in the areas of strategic planning, quality, benchmarking and PMO. He is active with the American Society of Quality, Malcolm Baldrige Award, The Conference Board and most recently won the Ishikawa Medal for his work directed at enhancing employee engagement. John has worked in several Ritz-Carlton properties for over twenty years, first joining The Ritz-Carlton in 1990 as a night manager. He joined corporate finance in 2002.

Edward R. Book, Jr. ’79 HRIM was recently promoted to general manager of the Renaissance Harborplace Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland. Previously, Ed was general manager of Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley.

Ben Shank ’00 HRIM was recently promoted to director of food and beverage at Four Seasons Resort Aviara in north San Diego. Previously, Ben was assistant director of food and beverage at Four Seasons Aviara and Four Seasons New York. “This all happened at the end of April, the same time my first daughter, Hunter, was born,” said Ben. He and his spouse, Jen ’00 HRIM are due double congratulations. Ben is active in the College of Health and Human Development Mentoring Program and received the PSHRS Emerging Professional Award in 2005.

Wedding Bells

Ryan Herzing ’06 HRIM and Emily Atwell-Keister ’06 HRIM were married on Friday, July 25 at Alameda Park in Butler, Pennsylvania. Ryan is currently working for Potbelly Sandwich Works at the National Harbor location. Emily is working for Olive Garden as the Sales Manager in Westminster, Maryland. The couple just also bought their first house together in a suburb outside of Baltimore.

Jill Nowicki ’00 HRIM married Ramsey Shockley on June 8, 2008 at the Ritz Carlton, Rose Hall, Jamaica.

Jennifer DiMucci ’03 HRIM and Whit Yost, a Bucknell graduate, will marry on June 6, 2009 in Philadelphia. Congratulations!

Update Archive

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