Auburn University’s Hospitality Gala will have record attendance for 2012

AUBURN – Students in Auburn University’s Hotel and Restaurant Management, or HRMT, Program will host the largest Hospitality Gala to date, with five award-winning chefs and three renowned winemakers coming to The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center on Thursday, April 5.

This year’s tickets sold out in less than 24 hours; however, interested parties can be placed on a waiting list at

With the 2011 gala raising a record amount – more than $200,000 in a single night – to benefit students in the HRMT program in the Department of Nutrition Dietetics and Hospitality Management in the College of Human Sciences, Dean June Henton and others have high expectations for this year.

“We are so thrilled with the positive reception the gala receives from both the Auburn community, as well as the support we receive from people throughout the state and even the country – from food and wine donations to individuals coming to Auburn to participate in the event,” said Henton.

Every year, junior and senior students in the HRMT program gain real-world experience by planning and executing all aspects of the affair. They receive guidance from HRMT assistant professor Alecia Douglas and the Hotel’s managing director, Hans van der Reijden.

The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m., with a reception featuring a meet and taste with the chefs and winemakers, including live cooking demonstrations from the five chefs, and a silent auction. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., followed by an awards presentation, honoring Rob McDaniel as Auburn’s Outstanding Alum, and a live auction.

Chef McDaniel is currently the general manager and executive chef at SpringHouse restaurant at Russell Crossroads on Lake Martin. He graduated from Auburn’s HRMT program in 2002 and studied at the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, where he learned to appreciate sustainable living and cooking.

Chef Christian Rassinoux spent four years as executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton Portman in Shanghai, China before taking the helm at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He has received numerous awards including Chef of the Year, French Culinary Association in 1986; Chef of the Year, Le Toques Blanche International in 1990; and Chevalier in the National Order of Merit by the President of the French Republic in 1994.

Chef Stephane Chevet, who was raised in the South of France and inspired to cook by his grandmother, enrolled at the Tain L’Hermitage Cooking School when he was 16. In 2004, he opened Shibuya, a Japanese restaurant, in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, which has been honored with the AAA Four Diamond Award and the Las Vegas Life Epicurean Award for “Best Japanese Restaurant.”

Chef Guenter Seeger made a name for himself by blending traditional German dishes with French technique and exotic ingredients. The German native spent more than 20 years working in Atlanta at Seeger’s Restaurant, Mumbo Jumbo, Resto Des Amis, and the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead. Since 2006, he has been president of Seeger’s Management LLC, an international consulting firm dealing in projects for the hospitality and retail industries.

Chef Tim Creehan, a certified executive chef, author, teacher, inventor and entertainer, is the proprietor of Cuvee Bistro in Destin, Fla., as well as the Great Events Center. He is responsible for creating Chef’s Grill Plus™, an instant marinade, which he patented in 1997. Before Cuvee Bistro, Creehan founded Beach Walk Cafe and served as executive chef and founding partner of Marina Café.

Chef Santosh Tiptur has been executive pastry chef at Co Co. Sala in Washington, D.C. since its opening in 2008. A native of India, Tiptur is highly regarded for his pastry artistry and impeccable reputation for taste and flavor, which can be found on the dessert menu, as well as in the restaurant’s savory dishes.

Winemakers Dean De Korth from Bernardus Winery and Tahmiene Momtazi from Maysara Winery, as well as Barry Wiss, vice president of Trinchero Family Vineyards, will be on-hand during the reception to provide samples of wines and answer questions about the winemaking process.

De Korth spent years studying and apprenticing in French vineyards, which has enabled him to create French-style vintages in Carmel Valley, Calif. Momtazi worked at Kim Crawford Wines in New Zealand and in numerous wineries in Oregon, before serving as the winemaker for Maysara. Wiss, a Certified Wine Educator and Certified Sommelier, is responsible for establishing the culinary and wine education program, Vine to Dine.

The annual gala is an extension of the college’s relationship with the Capella Hotel Group, the Atlanta-based luxury hotel management company that manages The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

(Written by Amy Weaver.)

Contact: Alecia Douglas, (334) 844-1434 (, or
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing (334) 844-9999 (