Tickets available for Hospitality Gala with world-renowned chefs, winemakers at Hotel at Auburn University

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Tickets can still be purchased for the 2013 Hospitality Gala, the annual benefit for the Hotel and Restaurant Management program in the College of Human Sciences at Auburn University, to be held on Thursday, April 11, at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center.

This year’s event will feature the culinary talents of world-renowned Chefs Kevin Sbraga, Sean O’Toole, Marco Bustamante and Adam Thomas, and wines from Aurelio Montes and Agustin and Valeria Huneeus, all from Chile. For ticketing information, go to

Every year, senior students in the Hotel and Restaurant Management program gain practical experience by planning and executing all aspects of the gala. They receive guidance from faculty and Hans van der Reijden, the hotel’s managing director.

The Hospitality Gala is the largest single-night fundraiser on campus and has raised more money each year than the previous year.

“Between the caliber of chefs we have assembled from across the country and Mexico, and winemakers like Agustin and Valeria Huneeus, who are pioneers in the development of the Napa Valley and longtime supporters of our Hotel and Restaurant Management program, as well as Aurelio Montes, Latin America’s most celebrated and respected winemaker, this year’s Hospitality Gala is going to be an unforgettable evening,” said Van der Reijden. “We are truly thankful for this community which continually supports the gala and our students.”

The evening will begin at 5:30 p.m. with the Taittinger Champagne reception, featuring the opportunity to meet the chefs and winemakers and sample food and wine, and also a silent auction. Dinner will be served at 7 p.m., followed by an awards presentation, honoring Agustin and Valeria Huneeus with the 2013 Horst Schulze Award for Excellence in Hospitality, and a live auction.

Some of the items available at the auction include a safari through South Africa’s Kruger National Park, a one-week stay at Constance Halaveli in the Maldives, one week at the best hotel in Santorini, Greece, a five-night stay at Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas and a gold extravaganza weekend for 14 at Pursell Farms in Sylacauga, Ala.

Agustin Huneeus has dedicated more than 50 years to the wine business, running companies in Chile, Argentina, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand and California. He created many labels of which the best known today are Quintessa, Estancia, Magnificat, Veramonte, Primus and Casillero del Diablo. Valeria Huneeus is the microbiologist, viticulturist and architect behind Quintessa, a 280-acre biodynamic and organic wine estate in Rutherford, Napa Valley.

Huneeus Vintners produces fine wines in Chile, Alexander Valley and Napa Valley, including Quintessa, Faust, Illumination, Flowers Vineyard & Winery, The Prisoner, Saldo, Neyen, Primus, Ritual and Veramonte. Agustin and Valeria remain active in the company along with their son, Agustin Francisco Huneeus Jr.

Chef Kevin Sbraga is the chef-owner of Sbraga in Philadelphia, named one of Esquire’s best new restaurants in 2012. He is known for winning Bravo TV’s “Top Chef” in 2010. Other accolades include being named to Philadelphia Style magazine’s list of Top 10 Chefs and earning Best Meat Presentation at the Bocuse d’Or USA culinary competition. Sbraga has served as the chef de cuisine at The Grill at Philadelphia’s Ritz-Carlton Hotel, culinary director for Chef Jose Garces’ restaurant group, and executive chef at Rat’s Restaurant at the Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, N.J.

Chef Sean O’Toole is executive chef at the Hopper Creek Kitchen in Hotel Yountville, currently one of the top three hotels in the California Wine Country. He has spent more than 15 years in some of the finest hotels and restaurants in the country: The Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco, Masa’s, Fifth Floor, Quince and Cotogna. In France, he apprenticed with Chef Jacques Maximin at Restaurant Maximin and trained in Paris for the opening of Chef Alain Ducasse’s Las Vegas outpost Mix, where he became chef de cuisine. He later served as the culinary director of operations at the award-winning Mina Group.

Chef Marco Bustamante, a graduate of the acclaimed French Culinary Institute in New York, is executive chef at the Capella Pedregal, an exclusive resort and residential community in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Prior to joining the Capella Hotel Group in 2004, Bustamante served as chef de partie at Per Se, one of Thomas Keller’s restaurants in New York; sous chef at Victor’s, the AAA Five Diamond dining establishment at The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans; and chef de partie at The Russian Tea Room in New York, where he assisted Chef Fabrice Canelle in menu development and staff training.

Chef Adam Thomas is the executive pastry chef at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, one of three hotels in the U.S. with 15 stars, five each for the restaurant, hotel and spa. His pastry skills have taken him all over the world, with stints at Ritz-Carlton hotels in California, Colorado, the Bahamas and Ireland, and Capella properties in Singapore, Italy and New York City. Before The Broadmoor, Thomas was the executive pastry chef at the famed Beverly Wilshire Hotel. He won the Valrhona C3 pastry competition in Cologne, Germany in 2009 and was selected to be a guest judge for the 2010 World Chocolate Masters, Singapore selection.

This year’s winemaker is Aurelio Montes. He is one of the founders of the Montes Winery, the “Best All-Around Winery of South America,” according to Wine Spectator. The magazine describes Montes as “cutting edge.” Others say he is a pioneer for his pursuit of premium quality winemaking in Chile and innovator in terroir exploration for his discovery of the Apalta Valley, which The Wall Street Journal considers Chile’s first grand cru vineyard site.

The annual gala is an extension of the College of Human Sciences’ 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: Gwen Lloyd, College of Human Sciences, (334) 844-4000 (,
Hans van der Reijden, The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center, (334) 321-3178 (, or Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (