Students serve gala dinner at governor’s residence

PHOTO PROVIDED Eight students in Penn College’s hospitality majors were selected to help prepare and serve food for the Pennsylvania governor’s residence annual winter gala in December. From left are Chef Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts; students Austin B. Ovens, of Elizabethtown, Mallory A. Hoffman, of Pottsville, Jacob W. Parobek, of Seltzer, and Kelsie F. Thomas, of Darby; Pennsylvania First Lady Frances Wolf; Gov. Tom Wolf; and students Magdalen C. Bennett, of Erie, Bridget M. Callahan, of Pottsville, Amaris T. Smith, of Williamsport, and Charlie E. Cooke, of Wayne.

A formal event at the Pennsylvania governor’s residence was the destination for eight Pennsylvania College of Technology hospitality students, who were given the opportunity to showcase their skills and work alongside the residence’s executive chef.

For close to 15 years, students and faculty in the college’s School of Business & Hospitality have worked with the executive chef for the governor’s residence, Chef Barry Crumlich, on the Culinary Connection stage at the Pennsylvania Farm Show. There, the students help some of Pennsylvania’s top chefs to prepare dishes for live demonstrations. Along with Crumlich, the students have shared the stage with Pennsylvania governors and first ladies.

“Because I have always been so impressed with the students’ professionalism, passion and work ethic, I was inspired to invite a group of students from the college to assist with the 2017 Pennsylvania governor’s residence annual winter gala,” Crumlich said. “Chef-instructor Mike Ditchfield graciously agreed to select exceptional students from the program to participate.”

Those students are Magdalen C. Bennett, of Erie; Bridget M. Callahan, of Pottsville; Charlie E. Cooke, of Wayne; Mallory A. Hoffman, of Pottsville; Austin B. Ovens, of Elizabethtown; Jacob W. Parobek, of Seltzer; Amaris T. Smith, of Williamsport; and Kelsie F. Thomas, of Darby. Hoffman is a student in the hospitality management major. The others are pursuing associate or bachelor’s degrees in culinary arts.

The winter gala is a formal event hosted by the governor and first lady, Tom and Frances Wolf, to raise funds for the preservation of the residence.

“I saw it as an opportunity for our students that I just couldn’t pass up,” said Ditchfield, instructor of hospitality management/culinary arts.

The students left Williamsport at 6:30 a.m. on the last day of fall semester final exams to join Crumlich and his staff at the residence to prepare for the evening event. The gala started with an intimate gathering of VIPs, where students helped to serve butlered hors d’oeuvres that included Yorkshire pudding with tender beef morsels and horseradish cream, warm baked brie and raspberry pillows, and truffle parsnip puree with locally smoked rainbow trout.

The pre-gala gathering flowed into a larger buffet reception for 130 guests, where students were stationed at stir-fry and carving stations to prepare cuisine to order.

“The students were mostly in awe, and they worked very well with the mansion staff,” Ditchfield said. “The staff was glad we were there to work with them.”

To learn more about hospitality majors at Penn College, visit www.pct.edu/hospitality.

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, visit www.pct.edu, email admis sions@pct.edu or call 800-367-9222.

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