UAA's Celebrity Chef Invitational 2007 hosts world-class chef

by Kathleen McCoy  |   

Chef Mark French features festive flavors of the Caribbean

Renowned Chef Mark French is the feature of the 15th Annual Celebrity Chef Invitational at UAA's Lucy Cuddy Dining Hall on Wednesday, September 19. Chef French will serve Puerto Rican and Caribbean-inspired fare to a host of local aficionados fortunate enough to get tickets to the sold-out event.

The Celebrity Chef Invitational is a fundraiser that showcases UAA's talented Culinary Arts and Hospitality students to key players in Alaska's hospitality industry. The funds raised provide scholarship opportunities to students and provides for maintenance of state-of-the-art learning facilities.

The event is by invitation only and will host approximately 270 people from many of the program's corporate sponsors, including the Hilton, Sheraton, Westmark, First National Bank Alaska, Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau, Royal Celebrity Tours, Marriott, Orso and others.

Chef French, the owner and executive chef at the Meliá in Puerto Rico, will serve a much-anticipated menu featuring Caribbean Lobster Pionono with cake bread, chardonnay wine and mampoasteao rice and pepper escabeche. The dessert will be a Mango Mascarpone in Filo Cup accented with vanilla cream sauce.

Chef Mark French has been cooking since he was 16 years old. He trained rigorously as a chef's apprentice for five years before he joined hotel chain Hilton International, where he worked for 10 years in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Chef French became the youngest executive chef for Hilton International when he was only 27 years old. He has won numerous awards throughout his career, including "Chef of the Caribbean" in 2000.

The Culinary Arts and Hospitality programs are a part of UAA's Community and Technical College. The Hospitality and Restaurant Management program offers students the opportunity to acquire the business management skills and hospitality finesse needed to develop a career in the expanding hotel and restaurant industries. The Culinary Arts program provides essential training in the ever-expanding food-service industry.

According to UAA's Culinary Arts Web site, hospitality and tourism are two of the world's leading industries, and are the largest retail employers in the United States. Approximately one in 12 people are employed by these industries in the U.S. alone.

"Our students have many opportunities after graduation in restaurants, hotels, resorts, hospitals, institutions, conferencing and catering and recreation management," said Tim Doebler, director of culinary arts and hospitality. "We offer a very diverse program that opens doors for our students."

This year's event begins with a cocktail reception at 5:45 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m.

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