Hospitality Gala Raises Funds for Hospitality Management Program


Hospitality Gala Raises Funds for Hospitality Management Program

Katy Doss
Here Molly Girl

Supporters of the Auburn University Hospitality Management Program donned their sequins and tuxedos Thursday evening for the 27th annual Hospitality Gala. Gala guests enjoyed a meet and taste with chefs and winemakers during the Tattinger champagne reception, where they bid on a variety of silent auction items. Visiting chefs showcased a delicious variety of small bites while guests mingled in the grand ballroom of The Hotel at Auburn University.

The evening continued with wines from winemakers Antoine Collet of Miami-based Kobrand Fine Wine and Spirits, Katie Griesbeck of California’s Cakebread Cellars, Annie Schull of Oregon’s Raptor Ridge Winery and David Tofterup of Spain’s Hammeken Cellars presented alongside a chef-guided culinary journey. Local Auburn-area chefs provided support for the four-course dinner featuring cuisine prepared by visiting chefs Joe Beck of Susan Gage Caterers, Tom Ramsey of Okra Magazine and Ford Fry, Damon Wise and Drew Belline of Ford Fry Restaurants.

After dinner, June Henton, dean of the Auburn College of Human Sciences, and Martin O’Neill, head of the college’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management, presented Frederick L. Dame, Master Sommelier and Global Ambassador for Daou Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles, California, with the 2018 Horst Schulze Award for Excellence in Hospitality.

Dame serves as Chairman of the Board of and is the first American to have served as president of the Court of Master Sommeliers Worldwide. One of just 160 Americans to have passed the Master Sommelier examination, Dame was the first to successfully pass all three parts in a single year. This feat and his high score won him the coveted Krug Cup of the British Guild of Sommeliers in 1984.

“It’s a great pleasure to honor Mr. Dame in this way,” O’Neill said. “He has been a longtime friend of the Hospitality Management program at Auburn and the Hospitality Gala. This award was designed to recognize those who, during their careers, have made outstanding and lasting contributions to the global hospitality industry. Put simply, there are few individuals of Mr. Dame’s caliber when it comes to global acclaim and contribution to the international hospitality community. It’s partnerships such as this that continue to allow us to offer a truly differential educational experience. “

The evening concluded with a live auction that featured trips to Chile, Singapore and Komodo, New York City and more.

Alecia Douglas, associate professor of hospitality management and the Gala students’ faculty leader, said she is delighted with how this year’s event came together. “This group of students worked tirelessly to host a wonderful Gala for supporters of Auburn’s Hospitality Management program, and they absolutely delivered,” she said. “I am so proud of their efforts, which have raised funds that will directly benefit our program.”

Since 1992, the Auburn Hospitality Management program has hosted a formal dinner and auction as an annual signature event for the program. Continuing a tradition of excellence, students in the catering and special events management class plan and host The Hospitality Gala guided by their faculty leader Douglas and in partnership with the experienced leadership team of The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. Led by Hans van der Reijden, founder and CEO of Ithaka Hospitality Partners, the team of experienced Hotel at Auburn University professionals function as affiliate faculty to help students effectively plan, organize, execute and facilitate the event from which proceeds support educational development initiatives for hospitality management students and faculty.

Van der Reijden, managing director of The Hotel at Auburn University, worked hand-in-hand with the Hospitality Management program to ensure an exceptional event.

“We are thrilled with the 2018 Hospitality Gala,” he said. “Not only was tonight the premier event in our area, it showcased Hospitality Management students who are the next generation of top-tier hospitality leadership.”

Henton understands the impact this experience has on the students. “We are so grateful for our industry partnership with Ithaka Hospitality Partners and The Hotel at Auburn University,” she said. “This unique partnership provides a multi-faceted educational opportunity for Auburn Hospitality Management students to participate in the planning, design and implementation of a large-scale formal event, guided each step of the way by a renowned premium service hospitality leadership team.”

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 29,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.

Centrally located near the shops and restaurants of downtown Auburn, Ala., The Hotel at Auburn University & Dixon Conference Center is just a short walk from the excitement of Auburn University and a diverse array of cultural and entertainment attractions. Whether in town for the big game, a special party, or a productive business meeting, the hotel’s 236 guestrooms and suites offer true Southern hospitality in an ideal setting. For a southern twist on Italian, visit A*T, located inside the hotel. An open kitchen and outdoor patio seating add character to this restaurant, which serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, Sunday Brunch and offers take-out service. A*T features an espresso bar and unique wine list, and has a private dining room for special events. Located in A*T, Piccolo is Auburn's only true lounge experience for specialty cocktails and a large variety of appetizers and desserts. The menu features a variety of small plates perfect for sharing, refreshing cocktails, and piccolo bottles of champagne. Live jazz performances take place on Fridays and Saturdays (except on home football game weekends). The property is owned by Auburn University and managed by Ithaka Hospitality Partners. For additional information or reservations, please call (800) 228-2876 or visit


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