Webster’s was fortunate to recently provide a discussion and lunch for Tammi Mallos and her students at KRESA. The students were ‘job shadowing’ throughout the Radisson in various areas from Housekeeping to Reservations, Front Desk to Security. During the meal we discussed back and forth the merits of hospitality and were challenged to answer questions from the students.
I know that society has a bring your child to work day and I remember the career days of decades past when parents would come to our elementary school and discuss their profession. Tammi’s classes are a group of young men and women who have chosen hospitality as a profession and many showed promise.
Nate and I prepared a simple steak salad, fresh arugula with pickled onions and sweet red grapes, a nice medium rare beef tenderloin sliced and fanned on the plate, topped with Pecorino slices and a balsamic cream. Nate’s fiancé and our event coordinator Alexa (Alex) served the group. After we sent out the food, we went and sat with the students and discussed our career paths.
John Mendles, our Executive Chef in Banquets and Alec Durocher, Sous Chef of Burdicks joined us as we answered questions from the students. They weren’t bashful, they asked tons of questions, some were intended to break the ice “how long have you worked at the Radisson” to some insightful “what is your favorite food to prepare and why”. We had a blast.
Kalamazoo Regional Educational Service Agency’s website answers the question ‘what is EFE?’ as follows:
Education for Employment (EFE) is an award-winning career and technical education center without walls that offers a wide range of programs to 10th – 12th grade students.
Programs are held in multiple locations: in high school buildings, on college campuses, and at actual business and industry sites.
EFE programs reflect “real world” applications and maintain the rigorous requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum as well as state, national, and industry technical standards and requirements.
These students are the future of hospitality. Personally, I’m glad to see them pursue such an important endeavor. The Radisson has several intern opportunities and has partnered well with State Universities and it is wonderful to see some energy and passion prior to college from the EFE students. In a time when Customer Service is often lacking in society, we enjoyed our time with the students.
There were some exceptions, such as maintaining their attention when their electronic devices were buzzing. I have three granddaughters, that wasn’t such a challenge. Perhaps more so were the questions regarding their future? I’m not sure any of us had answers.
It started me thinking about the assessments I received way back in elementary school, think I was going to be good at farming and industry if I remember right. My father was in public relations, my mom was in medical transcription. I wanted to play golf professionally and my culinary career found me, I didn’t wake up and decide to be a chef one day. These students have such an advantage today with specialized training and access to information. I just hope that they understand what a blessing that can be in their futures.
Nate, Alex, John, Alec, and I saw a brief glimpse of the future of Hotel, Restaurant, and Travel Management with Tammi and her students. We were afforded the opportunity to discuss finding passion in your work and the simple understanding that no matter what you do, do your best, try your best, and you will find an inner peace. Others may not recognize it, but there is a satisfaction that comes from knowing you did your best.
It sank in with some, others were more interested in Nate’s cream puff dessert, and others yet were looking at their phones. But I noticed the spark in some and that is good enough for me. I’ve seen that spark before, in countless servers who are now teachers and nurses and supermoms and dads to numerous line cooks who now work on cruise ships, are personal chefs and one is a master gardener. Many of us took a circular path to our passion and career, here’s to a shorter distance for Tammi’s students. May hospitality be alive and well with the next professionals from the EFE program thru KRESA.
– Stefan Johnson
Executive Chef: Webster’s Prime