Auburn University’s 2010 Hospitality Gala to feature award-winning chefs and guest auctioneer Coach Trooper Taylor

AUBURN – “An International Affair,” the 2010 Hospitality Gala hosted by students in Auburn University’s hotel and restaurant management program, will feature the cuisine of three award-winning and internationally acclaimed chefs, a live auction of travel and leisure items called by Coach Trooper Taylor and the first presentation of The Distinguished Alumni Award.

The gala begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 25, at The Hotel at Auburn and Dixon Conference Center. The 6 p.m. reception will include live cooking demonstrations by the chefs as well as a silent auction. The 7 p.m. dinner will be a chef-guided culinary journey combined with the award presentation and live auction.

College of Human Sciences dean June Henton says the annual gala is a way to showcase to the community at large the success of the hotel and restaurant management program, especially the higher than industry average employment rates of its graduates. Since 1992, the gala has served as an annual fundraising event to benefit educational initiatives of the program.

Andrew Litherland, one of the gala’s featured chefs, serves as executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton, Buckhead in Atlanta. Originally from New Zealand, he has worked in hotels with the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company in Osaka, Japan, Dubai, Rancho Mirage, Key Biscayne and Orlando.

Chef William “Ford” Fry, a native of Houston and graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, is chef at JCT. Kitchen & Bar in west Atlanta where he showcases his passion for “Southern farmstead cooking.” His culinary experience includes positions at The Ritz-Carlton in Aspen, Houston and Naples as well as Snowmass Lodge in Colorado and the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in California.

One of the few female sushi chefs in the world, chef Tracy Griffith was the first woman to graduate from the California Sushi Academy. In her cookbook, “Sushi American Style,” Griffith uses everyday ingredients to put an all-American spin on sushi. Griffith currently resides in Napa, Calif., and is involved in various chef events including “Cooking for Solutions” in Monterey, television hosting projects and a restaurant venture.

The 2010 Distinguished Alumni Award will be presented to Katy Law, a native of Bradenton, Fla., and a 2001 graduate of the hotel and restaurant program. For the last three years, Law has served as director of sales for the Americas for Design Hotels and is located in New York City. Design Hotels, headquartered in Berlin, serves more than 180 independently owned and operated boutique hotels located around the globe.

Upon graduation from Auburn University, Law served as an intern in events management at the United Nations in New York. Her professional experience includes positions with Societe des Bains de Mer, the Consulate of Monaco and the Mason Rose USA.

Junior and senior students majoring in hotel and restaurant management are getting real-world experience as they plan and execute all aspects of the hospitality gala. They receive guidance from assistant professor Alecia Douglas, Hotel and Restaurant Management program, and the program’s partners at The Hotel at Auburn University led by managing director Hans van der Reijden.

The event is an extension of the program’s ongoing relationship with the West Paces Hotel Group, the Atlanta-based luxury hotel management company that manages The Hotel at Auburn University.

“We are very proud of our close association with Auburn University and the support we are able to provide to the hotel and restaurant management program and its students,” said Horst Schulze, chairman and CEO of the West Paces Group. “Thus, we are especially pleased to have the opportunity to support the annual Hospitality Gala.”

Individual tickets for the gala are $85. Tables of 10 can be reserved for $850 each and sponsorships that include a table of 10 are $1,000. To order tickets or for additional information, go to or contact Alecia Douglas at (334) 844-1434 or

Contact: Alecia Douglas, (334) 844-1434 (,
or Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (