Auburn’s 2011 Hospitality Gala to feature award-winning chefs and tribute to West Paces Hotel Group chairman and CEO

AUBURN – The 2011 Hospitality Gala, hosted by the students of Auburn University’s Hotel and Restaurant Management program, will feature the cuisine of three award-winning chefs and wine tastings with renowned winemakers.

The annual event to benefit students in the hotel and restaurant management program begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. The 5:30 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 a live auction and an award presentation honoring Horst Schulze, chairman and CEO of the West Paces Hotel Group, for his contribution to the hospitality industry and the hotel and restaurant management program.

“The annual gala is a way to showcase to the community the success of the Hotel and Restaurant Management program, especially the higher than industry-average employment rates of its graduates,” said June Henton, dean of Auburn’s College of Human Sciences. “Since 1992, the gala has served as an annual fundraising event to benefit educational initiatives of the program.”

The gala is an extension of the college’s relationship with the West Paces Hotel Group, the Atlanta-based luxury hotel management company that manages The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center. Junior and senior students majoring in hotel and restaurant management at Auburn gain real-world experience by planning and executing all aspects of the hospitality gala. They receive guidance from assistant professor Alecia Douglas and partners at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center led by Managing Director Hans van der Reijden.

“This event has become one of Auburn’s largest fund raisers, and as it is planned by students in the hospitality program, that achievement demonstrates the bright futures ahead of them,” Auburn University President Jay Gogue said. “Honoring Horst Schulze is special to us, as he has been involved with Auburn for more than 24 years, and his name, for many, is synonymous with quality service.”

This year’s culinary journey will feature chefs Odette Fada, Michael Schwartz and Xavier Solomon.

Chef Fada, who serves as the corporate chef for Rana USA (, is highly recognized for her contributions to Italian cooking and is using her talent to create delicious new pastas for Rana USA. She has previously worked in some of the finest restaurants in Italy and the United States, including 14 years as chef at San Domenico in New York City.

Chef Schwartz is the chef/owner of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink ( in Miami. In 2010, he received the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef and is a recognized nationally as a culinary innovator at the forefront of the farm-to-table movement.

Chef Salomon, executive chef of the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay (, is a fifth-generation chef. He trained under Jo Rostang at his Michelin three-star restaurant La Bonne Auberge in Antibes, France, and graduated from Thonon les Bains Culinary Academy. He is the fourth in his family and only second in The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to earn the title Maître Cuisinier de France, or French Master Chef.

Clovis Taittinger and master sommelier Emmanuel Kemiji will be on hand during the reception to provide samples of their celebrated wines and champagnes and to answer questions about the wine-making process. Fred Dame, a master sommelier and vice president of the Heirloom Wine Group, will be on hand to represent the wines of Chateau St. Jean in Sonoma, Calif.

Kemiji has formed numerous wineries, including Miura Vineyards, Candela, Almvs, AntiqV2S, and Acvs in the United States and two projects in Spain – Arrels and Clos Pissarra. Taittinger is the director of Champagne Taittinger, the third oldest Champagne house.

Individual tickets for the gala are $100. Table sponsorships are available at three different price levels: $1,250 for a Magnum Table, $5,000 for a Jeroboam Table, and $10,000 for a Sovereign Table. For additional information or to purchase tickets, go to

(Written by Amy Weaver.)

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