SEEM Conference / Hunter Gatherer
An unlikely friendship: Herman Jacobs â€™10 and Marc Buoniconti
Food Network Producer Dave Mechlowicz â€™04
WINTER 2017 FEATURES
COLLISION COURSE A tragic tackle left Marc Buoniconti a quadriplegic and Herman Jacobs ’10 paralyzed by guilt. Decades later, their unlikely friendship set Jacobs free.
HUNTER GATHERER For Dave Mechlowicz ’04, Food Network’s director of culinary production, work is an adventure: One day he’s at the Super Bowl and the next he’s cooking with a supermodel.
IT TAKES A TEAM The Sports/Entertainment/Event Management Leadership Conference is one of the rare student-run university conferences in the country. For three years, SEEM has put Wildcats’ planning skills to the test.
Competitive eater Joe LaRue ’07 dishes tricks of the trade and reveals what he’s gained from the sport.
DEPARTMENTS 02 04 08 26 28 33
From the Chancellor Campus News Athletics Resource Development Alumni Connect Class Notes
FROM THE CHANCELLOR
Senior Vice President of Communications DOUG WHITING
Director of Design & Editorial Services BRIAN MURPHY
JENNIFER BROUILLARD MIKE COHEA RYAN CROWLEY PHILIP EIL TIM ELFRINK JULIA S. EMLEN
JORDAN FICKESS MIKE GALLEGOS ’07 VANESSA E. GARCIA DARLENA GOODWIN ROBYN HANKERSON MELINDA HILL AMANDA HOUPT HOLLI KEYSER RACHEL LACAILLE
Y DAD GREW UP DURING THE DEPRESSION when necessity inspired a generation
to innovate ways to repair and reuse. My parents instilled in me that everything has value and is worth fixing. When the zipper of my mother’s change purse broke, she didn’t buy a new one; instead she sewed it back on. Their resourcefulness ultimately led to their success, a lesson that still resonates with me. This Winter issue focuses on creative problem-solving and the power of resilience — traits that are embedded in each and every one of us and that a JWU education helps hone. “Hunter Gatherer” profiles Dave Mechlowicz ’04, Food Network’s director of culinary production. As a sophomore, Mechlowicz interned at the network as a behind-the-scenes prep chef. That internship led to a job in the purchasing department, where he quickly climbed the ranks as the self-described “fixer”: One day he’s sourcing pumpkins in Florida in May, the next he’s figuring out how to move truffles across the border. Mechlowicz credits JWU for preparing him to handle high-pressure situations and what he affectionately calls the “controlled chaos” of his job. An example of the preparation JWU provides is our third annual SEEM Leadership Conference, one of the rare large-scale conferences in the country that is solely planned and executed by students. This year featured an Elevator Pitch Competition: Entrants received a job description shortly before going on stage to convince the judges they’d be a good fit. The rock-star roster of panelists included event planning veteran Dusty Rhodes and two JWU alumni — a sales specialist for the New York Yankees and a touring and events coordinator for Columbia Records, who spoke of her “epic save” after making a scheduling error while planning Adele’s concert tour. The secret to their success? Being ready for anything. Some problems, however, cannot be anticipated, and “Collision Course” chronicles the power of resilience after a hard hit on the football field left lasting consequences. Although alumnus Herman Jacobs ’10 was the one tackled, Citadel linebacker Marc Buoniconti became a quadriplegic. Decades later, as guilt consumed Jacobs, the two forged a friendship that freed Jacobs to pursue his dream of a culinary education at our North Miami Campus. Thanks to Buoniconti’s encouragement, Jacobs is now in corporate management with the PDQ restaurant chain and has found the courage to move forward with his life. How have you persevered when faced with situations you couldn’t change? I encourage you to continue the conversation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MELINDA LAW JOE MAGENNIS LISA PELOSI ED PEREIRA CHRIS PLANO ’93, ’95 M.S. SHANNON ROBBINS ELIZABETH SCANLON ’97 M.S. STEPHEN SMITH MARY SWARD DAMARIS R. TEIXEIRA LAUREN TKACS DONNA VICTOR AMY VUCCI MIRIAM S. WEINSTEIN ’08 MBA KEVIN WESLEY
JWU Magazine is published four times a year including a special supplement for recent graduates. Photos (black and white or color prints), high-resolution digital images and news can be sent to JWU Magazine, 8 Abbott Park Place, Providence, RI, 02903 or emailed to email@example.com. Selection and publication of entries are at the editor’s discretion. JWU Magazine is produced by University Communications in cooperation with Resource Development and Alumni Relations. Chancellor JOHN J. BOWEN ’77
Providence Campus President and Chief Operating Officer MIM L. RUNEY, LP.D.
Regional Campus Presidents LARRY RICE, ED.D., ’90, NORTH MIAMI
Chancellor John J. Bowen ’77
RICHARD WISCOTT, PH.D., DENVER ROBERT C. MOCK JR., ED.D., CHARLOTTE
PROVIDENCE ALL-CLASS REUNION APRIL 28-30, 2017 REGISTER NOW AT ALUMNI.JWU.EDU DON’T MISS TASTE OF JWU CLASSES OF THE ’7S CELEBRATION COCKTAILS WITH FACULTY CASINO NIGHT
CAMPUS NEWS WHAT A WASTE!
HE STATISTICS ON FOOD that is wasted are
Carla Hall with Chef TJ Delle Donne ’04, ’07 M.A.T. while filming “The Chew”
ABC’S “THE CHEW” FEATURES JWU CARLA HALL, celebrity chef and co-host of the nationally-syndi-
cated daily television show “The Chew” on ABC, joined students and chefs TJ Delle Donne ’04, ’07 M.A.T., assistant dean of culinary relations & special projects, and Jonathan Poyourow ’03, assistant professor, to explore Rhode Island’s local and sustainable foods. The Providence Campus was prominently featured in the program that aired on October 19, 2016. Students and chefs demonstrated how to prepare homemade pasta with sauce using locally produced Del Duca® Prosciutto and locally grown mushrooms. The segment can be viewed at abc.go.com/shows/the-chew. ~ Miriam S. Weinstein ’08 MBA
JWU HOSTS FIRST MEDIA & POLITICS CAFÉ THE INTERSECTION OF MEDIA AND POLITICS was one of
the most discussed topics of the 2016 presidential election. A few weeks before voters went to the polls, it was at the center of a talk at the College of Arts & Sciences’ first Media & Politics Café. Students from the Media & Communication Studies program, which graduates its first class in May, and the Political Science program, which launched in the fall, had the opportunity to hear directly from those in each field. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and WPRI Digital Reporter Dan McGowan participated in an informative panel discussion that covered how they began their careers, the role media plays in politics, social media and more. The BRIDGE provided an intimate setting that allowed the panelists to break from the busy election cycle and talk about why politics and media play such important roles in society. “Our goal as reporters isn’t to be adversarial,” McGowan said. “But everything’s not always coming up roses. I expect answers [from politicians].” ~ Ryan Crowley
staggering. Forty percent of the food grown in the U.S. goes uneaten. To address the myriad issues of food waste, Bridget Sweet, Johnson & Wales executive director of food safety, and Sue AnderBois, Rhode Island director of food strategy, invited a team of experts from regulatory agencies, industry and food recovery organizations to present at “Spread the Surplus: Getting Wasted Food to Hungry People,” an invitation-only, half-day meeting held in the amphitheater at the Harborside Campus in December. More than 60 people from New England restaurants, retail food establishments, universities and nonprofit organizations attended. Presenter Christine Beling, a project engineer with the Environmental Protection Agency, sounded the alarm: “We are talking about wholesome, good food being wasted.” Some sources of the waste include overproduction in the food service industry, disposal of unattractive fruits and vegetables that are naturally misshapen, and foods that are tossed because their “best by” date has come and gone. Christina Rice, a clinical fellow at Harvard Law School Food Law and Policy Clinic, reported that no two states in the country have the same regulations on date labels. “We need to reform the expiration system,” she said. Chef Derek Wagner ’99, owner of Nick’s on Broadway in Providence, represented Chef’s Collaborative, a nonprofit with a mission to inspire, educate and celebrate chefs and food professionals who are agents of change. “As a chef and business owner, I take it as a responsibility,” he said in reference to wasted food. “What are we going to use our voice for? We have the most influence to change habits and the mindset.”
~ Miriam S. Weinstein ’08 MBA
Christine Beling, project engineer at the Environmental Protection Agency
JOIN! WORK! UNITE! Join! Work! Unite! is an annual tradition in which the freshman class participates in a community service project. Nearly 350 students from the Class of 2020 gathered at various Miami locations such as the Humane Society and Farmshare to help make an impact on the community.
~ Robyn Hankerson
HIRE JWU CONNECTS STUDENTS WITH EMPLOYERS
A RECORD-BREAKING 780 STUDENTS, dressed in professional
THE NORTH MIAMI CAMPUS has made health and wellness a
attire, were ready to land their dream job or internship during last year’s Hire JWU. More than 75 companies, including Enterprise, GEICO, Kohl’s, Universal Orlando and the United States Marine Corps, offered a range of opportunities from entry-level to management track programs in many different industries. “This was one of the most successful events for our campus, and I credit that to the students’ level of preparedness, and quantity and quality of employers,” said Darlene Cantor, director of experiential education & career services. “We know the anxiety students face post-graduation and we wanted to alleviate some of their stress by offering access to employers seeking their talent.” To prepare students, generate excitement and promote the event, the Experiential Education & Career Services department hosted workshops on résumé writing, interviewing skills and how to dress for success. “I was able to revamp my resume, which was very helpful for the job fair, as well as do research on the companies ahead of time so I would be prepared,” said Jacqueline Gonzalez-Cuba ’17. “There were a lot of employers, which could seem overwhelming, but it was great there was a variety of jobs for various majors.” ~ Robyn Hankerson
CHRIS WAGNER WINS BIG AT SEED PLANT-BASED BBQ THROWDOWN
priority, offering engaging activities on campus through the Wildcat Wellness initiative. With a focus on eight elements of wellness, including emotional, environmental, financial, intellectual, nutritional, physical, social and spiritual, the program is designed to help students, faculty and staff achieve success at school, work and in their personal lives. “Wellness is part of living a long, healthy and happy life,” said Sompa Adhya-Taylor, director of counseling services and chair of the wellness committee. “Many people associate wellness with only the physical aspect, but there are so many other elements that truly impact your well-being and it is great that we can showcase them in a fun way.” Each month, the wellness committee hosts an activity focusing on one of the elements, ranging from meditation to financial management workshops and a 20-minute wellness walk. During Wellness Week 2016, the campus community participated in fitness challenges and learned about the importance of hydration by exploring the benefits of herbal teas, coconut water and other alternatives to carbonated beverages. ~ Robyn Hankerson
Chef Chris Wagner and other guests at the BBQ Throwdown
NOT ONLY IS CHRIS WAGNER a Global Master Chef, he has
now earned the title of winner of the Seed Plant-Based BBQ Throwdown. Wagner, North Miami’s director of culinary operations, joined four other top chefs in the Miami market to prepare a plant-based barbecue dish as part of this unique event that celebrates vegan cuisine. Wagner worked alongside culinary arts students to prepare a plant-based “No Pork, Pulled Pork” sandwich topped with baby kale slaw and homemade BBQ sauce on mini Kaiser rolls. The dish was a favorite amongst the judges who rated him the overall winner, noting the flavor and flawless, professional and fast service at the team’s booth. ~ Robyn Hankerson www.jwu.edu
CAMPUS NEWS CHANGING THE WAY THE WORLD EATS — WITH CRICKETS After launching a successful Kickstarter campaign, Lithic and the Baugh brothers are well on their way to selling their cricket protein bars and powders to retailers throughout the Denver Front Range. “I feel proud that they are doing so well and that I may have somehow had an impact on the future of their business,” said Megan Witt ’18, who participated in Lithic’s feasibility interview during her small business consulting class. ~ Holli Keyser
SEEM KICKS OFF YEAR WITH NFL
WHO KNEW the second day of
class could be so exhilarating? It was for 42 Sports/Entertainment/ Event Management (SEEM) students who worked alongside the National Football League (NFL) for the 2016 NFL kickoff event, a nationally-televised celebration that marked the beginning of the footAdama Diop ’20 checks in a ball season. fan during the NFL kickoff event The Johnson & Wales team, led in downtown Denver. by professors Deb Pasquarella and Sean Daly, was charged with providing a total “fan experience”— from registering guests on the NFL mobile app to managing event tents and providing guest relations. With training given on site by the NFL, its event management group AXS and the Disney Institute, the experience provided a real-world scenario of event and sports venue management from two of the world’s foremost industry experts. Leena Goulding ’18 said it was interesting to see how the topics covered in class — from technology usage at events to types of security issues and crowd control — became instantly practical while working at the event. Daly said it was a win-win for JWU: “Both the NFL and AXS were very happy with our students and want to explore internship opportunities — not too shabby for the second day of class.” ~ Holli Keyser
hears lofty ideas from entrepreneurs he coaches through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) on campus. But when he heard crickets, that was a first. Identical twin brothers and local emerging entrepreneurs Dave and Lars Baugh reached out to JWU’s SBDC office to figure out how they could achieve their goal of becoming Colorado’s first cricket-based food company — ultimately developing America’s first cricket-based protein complex powder and protein bars that boast 15 grams each. The SBDC office provides client entrepreneurs free consulting services from a team of experienced faculty and students to meet with clients, evaluate concepts and determine feasibility for business ventures. The Baugh brothers said their experience interacting with the SBDC office helped to propel their business, now called Lithic. Dave said Professor Gilbert’s confidence and mentorship helped them jumpstart their startup: “Involving the students’ ideas and criticism enabled us to think more broadly about our business concepts.”
DENVER ATHLETICS TAKES POST-SEASON BY STORM BOTH THE MEN’S AND WOMEN’S cross country teams finished
in second place at the 2016 Association of Independent Institutions (A.I.I.) Championships, marking the first top-three honors for both programs. Women’s cross country proudly brought home the first trophy for a JWU Denver women’s sport. Wildcat men’s soccer finished their remarkable season as runners-up in the 2016 A.I.I. Conference Championship. The team, only in its fourth season, also made its first appearance in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics’ (NAIA) Top 25 national poll for two consecutive weeks, an impressive feat for seniors who started the program as first-year players. Dean Rounsevell ’18, Mitch Erickson ’17, Mark Ramirez-Tapia ’20 and Tanner Hoffman ’17 were also named to the men’s soccer all-tournament team. Arianna Flores ’19 and Emily Smith ’19 were named to the all- tournament team for women’s soccer, and Kelley McLain ’17 and Brittney Mukhar ’18 were named to the all-tournament team for women’s volleyball. ~ Mike Gallegos ’07 Denver’s Men’s Soccer Team
SCHOOL OF BUSINESS ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR Jeff Gilbert often
AGENTS FOR CHANGE AGENTS FOR CAMPUS ENGAGEMENT
(ACE) is a first-generation mentoring program. Forty students are participating this academic year, fostering relationships with a faculty or staff ACE who assists them in developing and achieving their academic goals. ACEs connect with their students several times a term and use their expertise to help students navigate Kyndal Champy ’18 JWU and feel connected to campus. Sara Bos, student experience coordinator, says she would like to reach more of the 200-plus first-generation incoming students. Currently there are 23 ACE volunteers who advocate, mentor and connect with students. Kyndal Champy ’18 says her ACE, Susan Seamon, has been her coach and confidant. “Being the first one in my family to attend college was a big deal, but I didn’t really have anyone to tell me what it was going to be like,” says Champy. “Susan and I get together for lunch or dinner and just spend time chatting. She really made an impact in my life. For students thinking about the ACE program, I would tell them to do it even if you don’t think you will need their help. You can meet so many new people at the ACE get-togethers and make friends who are in the same situation as you.” Ultimately, the ACE program builds bridges for Johnson & Wales first-generation students so they feel accepted, empowered and successful. ~ Melinda Law
OUTSIDE THE ZONE: ARTS & SCIENCES WEEK ARTS & SCIENCES WEEK was launched in
2009 to expose students to a variety of activities and events outside the classroom that encourage them to step out of their comfort zones. Topics have ranged from voting rights to homelessness to challenges facing Muslims in the United States. Trey Greene, executive director of Transcend Professor Howard Charlotte, explained to students how genderSlutzky nonconforming and transgender individuals frequently face multiple layers of discrimination, violence and trauma. “The workshop’s focus was how individuals can better understand these issues, find support when needed, and create safety for gender-diverse peers and loved ones in their everyday lives that promotes choice, authenticity and empowerment,” Greene said. Professor Howard Slutzky, Psy.D., moderated an interactive workshop on bullying, where he and other students shared personal stories. “Creating a safe space for students to share personal experiences about such a sensitive topic has been the most valuable aspect of this workshop,” he said. ~ Melinda Law
L-R: Professor Roland Sparks; Eanna Nesbitt ’19; Katelyn Gray ’17
FIELD TRIP FOR FUTURE LEADERS JOHNSON & WALES STUDENTS ATTENDED the DECA
National Collegiate Leadership Academy in New York. DECA is a worldwide nonprofit organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in finance, marketing, hospitality and management. It is an international association of high school and college students as well as teachers of marketing, management and entrepreneurship in business, finance, hospitality and marketing. Katelyn Gray ’17, president of the Johnson & Wales DECA chapter, competed in an entrepreneurship case study where she helped create an advanced marketing plan for a broadcast and video production company using a social, local and mobile strategy. “This was an important event to attend because of the competition, prep and networking opportunities it provided,” Gray said. “As a person who is normally shy, it provided me with a great opportunity to get outside of my comfort zone and grow as a young professional.” Gray, Eanna Nesbitt ’19, DECA treasurer for the campus chapter, and Roland Sparks, DBA, School of Business professor and club advisor, also visited business sites such as Madison Square Garden and Wall Street, and networked with business leaders. The conference was the first step for the chapter in preparing for the DECA regional conference in February at the University of South Carolina, and the national conference in California this April. ~ Melinda Law
ATHLETICS Aced it! BY JOHN PARENTE
The women’s volleyball team boasted 33 consecutive victories in 2016, was the only Division III volleyball team to finish the regular season undefeated, and took the GNAC championship two consecutive years. Can they top that in 2017?
hen Nancy Somera reviews her team’s record-breaking season, she sees numbers — gaudy numbers. But as remarkable as the Johnson & Wales women’s volleyball team performance was this past season, there’s still room for plenty of growth — just ask their head coach. Somera’s Wildcats ran off a startling run of 33 consecutive victories, were the only Division III volleyball team in the nation to finish the regular season undefeated, and won the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) championship for a second consecutive year. They shutout virtually everyone in their path from the start of the season in September until they defeated Rivier University for the GNAC title in November. The Wildcats won an astounding 99 of the 101 sets they played during the regular season and conference playoffs — virtual perfection. There were accolades and references to dream seasons that Johnson & Wales wasn’t really accustomed to receiving. Simply, they steamrolled through an entire season. Five players were named to GNAC’s all-conference team, with freshman setter Brylee Frank ’20 and first-year outside hitter Maria Coniglio ’20 joining sophomore middle hitter Emily Kalmink ’19 on the first team. Frank was
the league’s rookie of the year, as well as the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Rookie of the Year. Coniglio was the New England Volleyball Coaches Association’s Rookie of the Year. Both were named to the AVCA All-Region team and became the first All-Americans in the history of women’s volleyball at Johnson & Wales. They were named honorable-mention All-Americans by ACVA. Somera was selected not only as GNAC’s Coach of the Year, but the New England Regional Coach of the Year by the AVCA, and the Female Sports Coach of the Year, as selected by Words Unlimited, the Rhode Island Association of Sportswriters and Sportscasters. Then came the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) national tournament. Having received the conference’s automatic berth that comes with the league title, the Wildcats’ winning skein was unceremoniously stopped in the first round by a talented and more experienced UMass Boston. The reality that comes with the sudden end to such a sensational year remains fresh in the minds of Somera and her team. “Our players and staff know the job’s not complete,” Somera said. “Our aspiration is not simply to win our conference and make it to the
NCAA tournament; we want to win our region and compete for a national championship.” Let’s hit the rewind button to get some perspective into how the season unfolded. When the 2016 season began, Somera welcomed some top recruits, including Coniglio and Frank. She already groomed Kalmink, the 2015 conference rookie of the year, to a leadership position, but once she put her new team on the court, Somera was rather astounded. “No one expected on the first day of practice that we were good enough to go through a crazy 33-match run,” she said. “But the way they gelled in just a couple of weeks, you’d think they’d been together for a couple of years. Their court movement, communication and coordination was uncanny. It was a perfect situation where their collective strengths, skills and experience meshed together.” The Wildcats of 2016 were a difficult team to play. Winning points came from anywhere and everywhere on the court. If it wasn’t Frank’s sets, or conversions by Kalmink or Coniglio, it was the court awareness of freshman outside hitter Elizabeth Hamilton ’20, or the ball control and kill-stealing digs of freshman libero Gianna Esposito and other back row players. Added to the mix was the efficiency of another
Clockwise from above: the 2016 GNAC championship; Brylee Frank ’19 saves the day; Coach Nancy Somera has eyes on the game.
freshman, Kate Walker, the national leader in hitting percentage and the down-the-line winners from the team’s only senior, Starsha Tunstall. It was solid defense, plenty of offense and great transition work. Providence Campus Director of Athletics Jamie Marcoux knows a little about putting together winning teams. She served for 15 seasons as head coach of the volleyball ’Cats, winning more than 320 career matches, including five GNAC championships. The six-time GNAC Coach of the Year said, “It often takes time for teams to build a level of trust and competitive maturity that this team had. Those qualities, along with their court sense, patience and demeanor, were that of a seasoned team though they had only started playing with each other a couple weeks earlier. Nancy [Somera] knows the game so well but what makes her stand out is her ability to connect with her players; they trust her instincts. She is able to see the match unfolding and make the necessary adjustments to counter whatever the other team is throwing.” Let’s rewind now to the 2015 season, when JWU won the first of its back-to-back conference titles. JWU was not the favorite to win the GNAC crown when they arrived to face top-seeded Rivier in Nashua, New Hampshire. Somehow, with setter Kellen Tensen ’16 and Kalmink, a very productive middle hitter leading the way, the Wildcats knocked off the Raiders and made their trip to the NCAA
tournament. There, they were ousted in the first round. Somera draws interesting parallels between the two years: “In 2015, we were not as strong; we went 23-8. We weren’t the favorite, but we won the GNAC. We went to the NCAAs, and we lost in the first round. In 2016, we go undefeated, we were the favorites, we won the GNAC, went to the NCAAs, and lost in the first round — again. Totally different feeling going in, same feeling going out; two totally different seasons but the same result.” Let’s rewind further to 2014, when Somera was hired to lead the program. The University of Southern California graduate compiled a five-year plan that has just completed its third season: “There’s no question we made some great strides this season, but the regular season is the time to prepare for the post-season, not only for our conference tournament, but for the NCAAs. Our goal is to win our region, get to a super-regional and then move onto the championship weekend.” Let’s fast-forward to the future. The 33-match streak may not be something Wildcat fans will see for a while, but it will be remembered as the springboard that propels Johnson & Wales into regional and national prominence. The plan is a more ambitious schedule that will include teams that have enjoyed success at the regional and national levels. Somera says the nonconference portion of the Wildcat season may not produce another streak of 33 wins,
but it will make the team much stronger in the long run by testing them. More basic, however, is the need to begin the pursuit of national prominence in the friendly confines of the Wildcat Center. “We also need to recruit more depth in our practice gym,” says Somera. “We need to be deeper in every position, with players that will push each other every single day in practice. The more we play against better competition every day, the stronger we’ll be when we compete against those teams we’re scheduling that have had some regional and national success.” Kinda makes you want to fast-forward to see what comes next, doesn’t it?
left Marc Buoniconti a quadriplegic and Herman Jacobs â€™10 paralyzed by guilt.
A TRAGIC TACKLE
By Tim Elfrink Photos by Donna Victor
DECADES LATER, their unlikely friendship set Jacobs free.
ERMAN JACOBS’ EYES WELL WITH SILENT TEARS as he listens to Marc Buoniconti talk in a low, gravelly timbre. The pair sit across from each other at a humid outdoor café in Coconut Grove, their bowls of soup and sandwiches forgotten on the table. First, Buoniconti remembers in vivid detail the awful moment on a college football field that left him quadriplegic and Jacobs ’10 so emotionally scarred that his athletic career ended along with his ambition to do more than toil at a fast-food restaurant. Then Buoniconti recalls how a simple act of kindness reunited them 20 years later and — in many ways — saved Jacobs’ life.
The tale is so incredible that a Disney screenwriter would spitball it as too neat, too inspirational. But it’s all true. And as Buoniconti and Jacobs relive their path from agonizing pain to unlikely redemption — which came in no small measure through Johnson & Wales University — they obviously realize just how unlikely their journey has been. “The fact that Marc helped me get here today, the fact that we developed this friendship through all this, it really is just amazing,” Jacobs says with a quiet laugh. “I’m still overwhelmed when I think about it.” Before their lives collided on the gridiron, Jacobs and Buoniconti could hardly have come from more starkly different backgrounds. Buoniconti was a child of privilege, born in 1966 with the hard-hitting, quick-sprinting genes of football greatness. His father, Nick, was a Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots; he’d earned a law degree while playing, and after his career ended, became president of U.S. Tobacco. Though he grew up wealthy in Miami, Buoniconti was a troubled student with terrible disciplinary problems. The football field, where he grew into an unblockable high school linebacker, was the only place he was at ease. Yet his grades and suspension record were so bad that just one college offered him a scholarship: The Citadel, where his parents hoped a stern dose of military discipline could turn his life around. Jacobs, who is two years older than Buoniconti, grew up poor and traumascarred in Ybor City, a historic, blue-collar neighborhood in Tampa. When he was just five years old, Jacobs watched from his front door as a man chased his father down the street and then shot him to death. He and his family moved into a notoriously dangerous housing project, where they struggled mightily. “I come from a large family, and I do mean a large family,” says Jacobs. “Just my family had 11 brothers and sisters. Add on all the stepbrothers and sisters, you’re in the 20 to 30s.” But Jacobs’ demeanor always belied his tough breaks; even as he developed a reputation as one of the neighborhood’s most fearsome athletes — a muscular kid who’d rip off 60-yard runs with beguiling ease — his personality was always jocular. His smile was quick, and his time off the field was spent with groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Tragedy stalked Jacobs, though. When he was 13 and playing a junior high school game, he slammed into a kid named Henry Mull and shattered Mull’s spine on the spot; medics sliced off his pads on the field and rushed Mull to the ER, where he was paralyzed for days. Although Mull later made a miraculous recovery — his spine fused back together with pieces of bone taken from his legs — Jacobs was shaken. Still, he kept running, becoming one of Florida’s most talented young football players. He earned a scholarship to East Tennessee State University, where he quickly blossomed into a star running back. In October 1985, Jacobs’ junior season, East Tennessee State hosted the Citadel at the Mini-Dome in Johnson City. Any NFL “I never really had scouts in the stands would have been training a conscience their binoculars on Buoniconti and Jacobs, before my injury,” two of the brightest talents in that day’s game. The play that forever changed their lives Buoniconti says. was routine. Jacobs took the ball like he had a thousand times before, juked past a defender and ran for a few yards before a Citadel player dove in, upending his feet above his head. At that exact moment, Buoniconti flew in for one of his trademark crunching tackles. The 19-year-old’s head pounded into Jacobs’ back, and Buoniconti’s limbs went limp before he even hit the ground. He nearly died on the way to the hospital, his heart seizing up in the shock of a severed spinal column. He awoke to learn the terrible truth: He’d never walk again. For Jacobs, it was almost too much to bear: He’d now paralyzed two men. He kept playing, but his coaches noticed the difference. Once a bulldozer with the ball in his arms, Jacobs now shied away from hits. His tenacity and his power had vanished. Just 15 months after his hit on Buoniconti, he endured a final tragedy: Back in Tampa, his twin brother Herbert was shot and killed in a robbery gone bad. Once known for his gregarious grin and optimistic outlook, Jacobs simply shut down. As his football career tailed off, he started managing
fast food joints in Johnson City, Tennessee, just a few blocks from the campus where he was once a star. He landed at a mustard-colored drive-in called Pal’s, stuck but doing little to escape. “I was confused for a long time. I was just going through the motions of life,” Jacobs says. About three years after the hit, Jacobs actually saw Buoniconti, who had filed a lawsuit against the Citadel accusing the school and the team’s trainer of negligently letting him play that day with a previously diagnosed neck injury. Jacobs was called to testify and outside the courtroom, For years afterward, between Buoniconti tried to reassure repetitive shifts at Pal’s, him that he was blameless. Jacobs would watch the tape “I told him, ‘Like, dude, don’t over and over, trying to even think about this being a understand how a football problem,’ ” Buoniconti recalls. “I play had left his life in ruins. paralyzed myself. I threw myself into you.” But Buoniconti may as well have been talking to a wall. “I heard what he said, but it didn’t register,” Jacobs says. “I just couldn’t get past him sitting in that chair.” In fact, after the trial Jacobs asked Buoniconti’s attorney for a copy of a short video that showed those agonizing seconds when the two men collided on the field and Buoniconti fell broken to the turf. For years afterward, between repetitive shifts at Pal’s, Jacobs would watch the tape over and over, trying to understand how a football play had left his life in ruins. For the next 18 years, Jacobs’ life was monotony: Greasy burgers on the skillet, large sodas, teenaged employees. “I’ve had people tell me that after a tragedy, they don’t see things past the nose on their face. That was me,” he says. “I didn’t want to hurt anyone again.” He’d probably still be clocking in at Pal’s today, if not for a few coincidences — and an amazing gesture of forgiveness and goodwill. Jacobs’ unlikely turnaround started in 2006, when Buoniconti agreed to return to the Citadel for the first time since his bruising lawsuit, which
Herman Jacobs ’10, left, and Marc Buoniconti, right
settled out of court. By then, Buoniconti and Jacobs had once again taken radically different trajectories. The injury had a curious effect on Buoniconti, who had been an angry and lost young man before the devastating collision. Everything snapped into perspective; rather than fume about his fate, Buoniconti decided to embrace it as a way to make a positive impact on the world. “I never really had a conscience before my injury,” Buoniconti says. In the two decades after becoming paralyzed, Buoniconti had become arguably the nation’s most visible advocate for quadriplegic medical research. His parents had cofounded the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis with Dr. Barth A. Green, the neurosurgeon who treated their son. As he learned to live as a quadriplegic, Buoniconti pushed himself in other ways: He enrolled at the University of Miami and earned a psychology degree, and then became an ambassador for the Miami Project. He later became the group’s president, eventually helping to raise $400 million. But 20 years after his accident, he’d still never returned to the football field where his paralysis happened. Urged on by his former teammates, he finally came back for the school’s homecoming in 2006. It was a glorious day: The team retired his jersey, the Citadel won, and the team gave him the game ball. But Buoniconti knew something wasn’t right. “My friend Joel and I were talking after the homecoming and realized there was someone missing. It was Herman,” Buoniconti says. “I told Joel, ‘Find him.’ ” A few months later, his friend called back. He’d found Herman — still in Johnson City, still working the same fast food gig. Buoniconti was astounded, and a few months later caught him on the phone. The two chatted for 15 minutes — nothing earth-shattering, just catching up. But for Jacobs, it was a massive first step. “That was the beginning of a long process,” Jacobs says. “I felt this huge weight was lifted off my shoulders.” Buoniconti invited him to come to a game in Charleston the next fall — he’d fly him out, put him up, but he wanted him there. Jacobs agreed. Amidst the pageantry of a Bulldogs football game, he reconnected with Buoniconti and all his old teammates. “We were hanging out, and maybe I get too involved in people’s lives, but I asked him, ‘What are your dreams?’ ” Buoniconti says.
Jacobs was dumbfounded. “No one had ever asked me that,” he says. He thought quietly for a moment and then said, “I really want to be a chef.” It was true. In fact, if he was honest with himself, cooking professionally was a fantasy he’d quietly harbored since he was a kid. “When I was young, my grandmother and my mother used to have to kick me out of the kitchen. I’d go in there to just watch,” Jacobs says. “It was always so fascinating to see all this food and wonder, ‘How did you do that?’ ” Jacobs had first deferred that dream to focus on football and then — after the collision — because he’d lost the will to fight for anything. So when he admitted to Buoniconti what he really wanted, it was as if he’d freed an unspoken desire. Even better, Buoniconti had a plan. “I called him later and said, ‘Listen, there’s a great school here in Miami called Johnson & Wales,’ ” Buoniconti recalls. “I told him, ‘I’ll help you do this but you have to make the choice.’ ” Jacobs was intrigued. “I used to watch ‘Iron Chef’ a lot and I used to watch Emeril all the time and I was amazed how many students from Johnson & Wales ended up on there,” he says. “I thought, ‘Wow, what kind of connections do you need to go there?’ ” Now Jacobs had his own chance. He flew to Miami, where Buoniconti accompanied him to a meeting with the admissions director. “By the time we finished meeting, basically we realized he could “Marc’s a guy who had a horrific get a full scholarship through situation but turned it around Johnson & Wales’ generosity,” Buoniconti recalls. “I said, and become a beacon in our ‘This is totally up to you. You’re community,” Van Aken says. not obligated to me at all.’ ” “He could have let Herman Jacobs returned home and become part of the past instead Buoniconti didn’t hear from of allowing him to forgive and him for about two months. forget and move on.’’ “Then he calls and says, ‘I’ve decided. I’m coming down,’ ” Buoniconti says. “I said, ‘Great! Where are you staying?’ He’s like, ‘I don’t know.’ So I said, ‘OK dude, come on over.’ ” In 2008, 23 years after their brutal collision, Buoniconti and Jacobs became roommates in Miami. Jacobs had, at last, torn himself from the bubble of guilt and fear that had trapped him in Tennessee. But he confronted a whole new challenge as a 44-year-old rookie showing up for his first day of school at Johnson & Wales’ North Miami Campus. “I realized that to succeed at something, you have to be uncomfortable,” Jacobs says. “You have to have that confidence and believe in yourself. You’ll make mistakes, and that’s fine. You’ll rebound.” On his very first day, Jacobs found a mentor. While searching for his first class, he asked someone for directions. He’d lucked out: He’d asked Chef Alan Bergman, his teacher for that class. The two bonded immediately. “I didn’t know anything about his amazing backstory,” Bergman says. “But I like to try to get to know students who are upfront and passionate
about what they are doing. He was definitely passionate about getting his education, no matter how hard the work.” Although Jacobs was among the oldest students on campus, he soon felt at home: He was back in the kitchen with his grandmother and mom, fascinated by all the techniques he was now learning from top professionals.“I was older, but that’s not how my classmates saw me,” Jacobs says. “You have to respect each other in a kitchen to survive. It doesn’t matter how old a person is or how young they are. You’re working together and you have to respect each other.” Jacobs and Buoniconti, meanwhile, became close friends. For six months, Jacobs lived in Buoniconti’s home. The two talked football, cooking and college life. Jacobs eventually moved into his own place, but the pair would meet at least weekly to catch up. In May 2010, Jacobs graduated with an associate degree in Culinary Arts. Buoniconti was there in the front row, “like a proud parent.” That wasn’t the end of the journey for Jacobs and Buoniconti, of course. With his degree in hand, Jacobs couldn’t wait to get back into a kitchen — but he almost blew his big chance. Soon after graduating, he landed an interview with Norman Van Aken, the legendary creator of the New World Cuisine movement. “I just sat there and I froze,” Jacobs recalls with a laugh. “I couldn’t believe that I was sitting across from Norman.” Van Aken gave him another shot, and Jacobs spent three years as a chef in his Miami restaurant. Like Bergman, the chef didn’t know then about Jacobs’ remarkable journey from emotionally scarring pain to culinary rebirth. When he did learn the tale, he was floored. “Marc’s a guy who had a horrific situation but turned it around and become a beacon in our community,” Van Aken says. “He could have let Herman become part of the past instead of allowing him to forgive and forget and move on. It speaks great things about Marc and Herman and humanity that they could move forward like this.” In recent years, Buoniconti’s work with the Miami Foundation to Cure Paralysis has been yielding promising results. Their research has helped promote cold therapy as a potential tool to prevent paralysis after a devastating injury. Doctors used the experimental technique — which involves flooding a patient’s body with cold saline solution — in 2007 on Kevin Everett, a Buffalo Bills player who suffered a spinal fracture in a game. Everett can now walk again. Buoniconti’s foundation will soon open a multimillion-dollar facility at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami that will focus on cutting-edge research and rehabilitation. After three years cooking in Van Aken’s kitchen, Jacobs took a corporate management job with the PDQ restaurant chain. Last year, he moved across the state to St. Petersburg to be closer to his aging mother. But he still drives back to meet Buoniconti in Miami as often as he can, to tell stories and relive the improbable route that brought them back together and — ultimately — made them both more complete. Back at that outdoor café in the hot Miami afternoon, Buoniconti reflects that he only has one regret. In the whole time he’s known Jacobs, he’s only ever gotten one meal out of him: A leftover blueberry pie from a Johnson & Wales baking class. “I’m still waiting to see those cooking skills,” Buoniconti laughs. JWU
POSTSCRIPT: January 12, 2017 With assistance from North Miami culinary faculty and students, Jacobs prepared a lunch of seared red snapper over rice pilaf and sautĂŠed vegetables with a beurre blanc sauce. Buoniconti was duly impressed.
by PHILIP EIL photos by MIKE COHEA
As Food Network’s director of culinary production, one day Dave Mechlowicz ’04 is sweet talking airport security into letting him check a cleaver and the next he’s basting turkeys with supermodel Chrissy Teigen. (He’s not complaining.)
Dave Mechlowicz ’04 was in his early teens, his uncle introduced him to the Food
Network. At the time, the network, which launched in 1993, was just getting its footing, and on-camera personalities like the quirky and charismatic chef Emeril Lagasse ’78, ’90 Hon. hadn’t yet become superstars. Mechlowicz, a budding chef with an interest in the entertainment industry, was fascinated. He remembers thinking “it would be really cool to work for that company.” Fast-forward to 2017. The Food Network is a juggernaut with programming in 150 countries, distribution to 100 million U.S. households and annual revenues topping $850 million. Emeril — who no longer needs a last name to be recognized — is one of the most famous chefs in the world. And the 35-year-old Mechlowicz, the Food Network’s director of culinary production, is one of the channel’s star employees. In his 11 years at the company, he has worked at the White House and Super Bowl, traveled to almost every state in the U.S. as a producer on dozens of shows, and, on one memorable work trip to Japan, sampled freshly-sliced, top-grade Bluefin tuna at a pre-dawn visit to one of the world’s biggest fish markets. “I love my job,” he says. And he wouldn’t be there without Johnson & Wales University.
THAT STORY BEGINS
in Providence, in the early 2000s, when Mechlowicz was a sophomore exploring internship options. He had narrowed the choices down to an old-school, trial-by-fire experience working in the kitchen of a French restaurant in New York City, or a similarly hands-on experience at the Food Network. He chose the latter, and started out as one of the many behind-the-scenes prep cooks who peel the shrimp, caramelize the onions, and prep the sauces and cocktails that ultimately appear onscreen. If an on-camera chef was shown putting a chicken into the oven, “we would be making the finished chicken that would be swapped out,” Mechlowicz says. After a few weeks, though, he was feeling under-stimulated and asked his boss if there was anything else he could do. He was shifted to the network’s purchasing department, where he joined the team of folks who scurry around New York and other locations to buy ingredients for the shows. It was like casting, but for food, Mechlowicz says; the tomatoes, fish, and anything else appearing onscreen needed to look perfect, and tracking down those items was a fast-paced daily scavenger hunt. Mechlowicz was hooked. Hustling from spice stores to seafood suppliers to farmer’s markets meant he was never stuck in an office. “I was interacting with a lot of people, building relationships,” he says. Each new ingredient was a learning experience.
The internship ended, and Mechlowicz went back to school. But during summers, he would return to freelance for the purchasing department. And when he graduated, after completing a year as an assistant manager for Morgan Stanley’s corporateheadquarters’ dining program in New York, he called the network to see if there were any openings. As it turned out, there was one in the purchasing department.
FOR A RECAP of what happened over the next 10 years,
you could go to Mechlowicz’s LinkedIn page, which charts his rise to a remarkable range of responsibilities, including “produce and assist with award-winning culinary programming including six of the highest rated television shows in the Food Network’s history (including “Iron Chef,” “Next Iron Chef,” and “Next Food Network Star”),” “travel to locations to observe shows especially in pilot and beginning episodes,” “manage logistics of food events for Food Network and Cooking Channel,” “oversee content for digital packages and recipe testing for digital and publication,” and “oversee all food and beverage planning and purchasing needs for entire company.” A Google search also yields colorful details about his day-today life during that time. In 2006, Mechlowicz appeared on the cover of the Food Network’s cookbook, “How to Boil Water: Life
Beyond Takeout.” In a 2008 article in the network’s magazine, Mechlowicz is described as standing guard over the secret ingredient for “Iron Chef” so competing chefs can’t sneak a glimpse. (“I don’t sleep at all during the weeks we’re shooting,” he said.) In 2010, the New York Post described him as “the man who makes sure Paula Deen’s pantry is always stocked.” In 2012, MarthaStewart.com published a clip from “Emeril Live!” in which Mechlowicz guides viewers on a trip to a Manhattan farmer’s market. That same year, the supermodel Chrissy Teigen tweeted a photo from Food Network headquarters of glistening, fresh-from-the-oven turkeys, with the caption, “How am I supposed to work when @dmechlowicz has 5 turkeys within arm’s length?” Mechlowicz attributes his success and longevity at the network in part to being at the right place at the right time. When he arrived, the channel was about to launch into the stratosphere on the strength of “American Idol”-style competition shows, and the ever-growing star power of chefs like Bobby Flay and Rachael Ray. (Mechlowicz has worked with both of them.) He says the channel was also well-suited to weather the post-2008 economic downturn. Even while the country was struggling, food and food-related TV programming were soothing, he says. “We showcase something that is involved in every single person’s life, regardless of age or ethnicity,” he says. “Everyone eats — you have to eat — and it’s a comfort zone for people. It brings people together; it brings people memories … stories come out of food.”
HE’S ALSO GRATEFUL for a skillset gained during
his time at Johnson & Wales. The first course he ever took at JWU — a dining room class — was an “amazing tool” that helped him hone front-of-the-house skills like public speaking and interacting with guests. Later, a restaurant-stocking class introduced him to new varieties of ingredients (20 different types of stone fruits, as opposed to just knowing about peaches and plums) and the behind-the-scenes logistics that make food service possible. It’s not hard to connect the dots between these courses and what Mechlowicz does now. But he says Johnson & Wales also imbued him with a mindset that prepared him for a variety of high-pressure and chaotic situations. “Being in a kitchen, or learning to become a chef, you have to be very disciplined, organized and focused,” he says. “In a kitchen there’s a lot of different things going on at once.” These skills can relate to any job, he says, but particularly the life of a self-described TV-network “fixer.” One day, Mechlowicz might be helping expedite meals at a major network-affiliated event. Another day, he’s pre-selecting items from the menus of
restaurants that a show’s host — say, Anthony Anderson of “Eating America with Anthony Anderson” — is scheduled to visit. Once, while working on a show shooting a Halloweenthemed pumpkin-carving competition in Florida in May, he had to track down pumpkins within 24 hours. After phone calls with farmers around the country, he ultimately reached the head of agriculture at Disneyland’s EPCOT Center, which has a lab that grows various kinds of produce year-round. The result? He got the pumpkins. Talk to him about his job and other quirky stories emerge. There was the time he asked a butcher to make a 400-pound mortadella sausage for a photo shoot, or when he was on Skype at 3 a.m. with a vendor in Hawaii, ordering bigeye tuna for the secret ingredient on “Iron Chef,” or the time he and his team had to “pretty much change a whole show on the fly” when certain ingredients were held up in customs after an international trip. Truffles are tricky to move across borders, he says. And “traveling with knives is always an interesting situation.”
OVER TIME, Mechlowicz’s cool head and creativity in
such situations made him the go-to guy for a variety of Food Network ventures. “Not to sound bigheaded, but whenever there’s a very, very large project and it’s something new, I’m always on it,” he says. And that’s just how he likes it. He lovingly calls the job “controlled chaos” and adds, “I like that every day is a brand new job. I’m not sitting at a desk more than an hour of my day, ever.” At this point, the busier things are, the happier he is. “I’d rather have 50 things going on at once,” he says. “The more stuff I do, the more productive I am.” He isn’t exaggerating. When Johnson & Wales visited him at Food Network’s headquarters in Manhattan’s famed food-hub, Chelsea Market, he had just returned from a six-week jaunt with the show “Burgers, Brew and ’Que” that included stops in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Traverse City and Detroit. The following month would bring work trips to Minnesota, Oregon, North Carolina, Montana, Texas and New Mexico. “Everything becomes a blur,” he says. Even with that blur, though, certain moments stick out. During the final weeks of “Emeril Live!” in 2007, Mechlowicz was prepared to go onscreen for a short segment to talk about ingredients he had bought for the show. Then, unexpectedly, Lagasse told him to stick around, and, as cameras rolled, the two chefs cooked side-by-side for half an hour. With stories like this, it’s safe to confirm what Mechlowicz suspected as a teenager: The Food Network is, indeed, a cool place to work. JWU
Event founder and Associate Professor Patrick Leary addresses the crowd.
Caroline Gaughan ’16 polishes her networking skills.
IT TAKES A TEAM
The Sports / Entertainment / Event Management Leadership Conference tasks students with rigors of the event planning they hope to do post-graduation. One of the key lessons learned? Be ready for anything. By Amanda Houpt Photos by Mike Cohea
THE STUDENT PLANNING COMMITTEE
has met weekly for months, listing possible speakers, negotiating sponsorships, recruiting volunteers and triple checking every detail to make sure that the third annual Sports / Entertainment / Event Management (SEEM) Leadership Conference at the Providence Campus is a wild success. They have partnered with stakeholders inside and outside of Johnson & Wales University — collaborating with administrators and staff, brainstorming menus with culinary students, and engaging alums and industry leaders as panelists and keynote speakers. They’ve packed goodie bags and surveyed every inch of the venue. Suddenly, the day has arrived. An hour before the events start, the hustle and bustle of students outside of the Xavier Academic Complex has already begun. Planning committee members like Zoey Hall ’18 stand smiling at the parking garage exit with dozens of lanyards looped around their arms like garlands. They greet their guests and walk them to check-in. The first of the day’s events is a networking breakfast, where students and speakers cluster around tables. Their conversations are an eager exchange: alums ask about classes, professors and construction on campus, while students give them the scoop and ask for insider industry tips. From the first event of the day, the conference succeeds in its goal of uniting new and emerging leaders in the field.
THE SEEM LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE
is a rare event in higher education: a large-scale conference that is solely planned and executed by students. Associate Professor Patrick Leary conceptualized the event several years ago as a way to integrate the SEEM major with the experiential learning principles at the heart of JWU. He envisioned an event that would be researched, planned, implemented and evaluated by a team of students participating in Directed Experiential Education (DEE). The resulting DEE course is 11 weeks long, worth 4.5 credits and capped at 10 students. Enrolled students meet weekly. A full-time student intern works closely with Leary to oversee the planning process. In addition to those enrolled, others apply to volunteer as student ambassadors on the day of the conference. The entire SEEM community has embraced Leary’s bold vision — in each of its three years, the conference has expanded to offer more sessions and panelists. Although currently the event is geared to JWU students, Leary’s goal is to build a conference that draws attendees from outside of JWU. During the past few years, he and his students have worked to iron out logistical challenges such as parking, securing sponsors and following university protocols. “The biggest lesson learned is that you can’t do this on your own,” commented Leary. “A group of 10-plus students on a planning committee have a vision, but that vision can’t be realized without the help of an army of people on campus.” Although that army is largely invisible on conference day, their efforts show in the success of each event.
Event planner Dusty Rhodes, president of Convectures Inc., offers some wisdom.
Student planner Paige Zuber ’19 kicks off the elevator competition.
AS BREAKFAST WINDS DOWN
attendees make their way to a nearly packed auditorium. They skim the conference agenda and sift through the bags they received as they entered, finding sunglasses, notebooks, mints and pens. Just before the morning keynote address, a fleet of students in suits power-walks down the aisle. They scan the room and step backstage to greet the speaker. With the nod of one head, introductions are made, and Dusty Rhodes, president of Conventures Inc., steps on stage. An industry leader with more than 30 years of event planning experience, she knows the lay of the land. She begins by congratulating student planners and admitting that she may have underestimated their sophistication when she created her presentation. However, like any true event planner, she’s ready for anything. She scraps her prepared talking points and tells them about the 14 building blocks of event planning and management, stopping to share photos and stories of successes and challenges. If her event-planning essentials were a checklist, JWU students would have marked every box. As the Q&A begins, student planners gather with culinary students inside Bistro 61, the university’s student-run café, to review the menu and check each table setting. The hallways are a hive of excitement. Some attendees file toward a networking luncheon. Others pace nervously, mouthing words of the speeches they have prepared for the Elevator Pitch Competition. Inside the auditorium, a conference planner requests more competitors in two of the categories, and without hesitation, student planner Jordan Lacey ’17 volunteers.
Paige Zuber ’19 heads for the stage.
THE ELEVATOR PITCH COMPETITION
consists of three categories — sports, entertainment and event management. Shortly before the competition, entrants received a job description and were asked to create a short speech to convince the judges they’d be a good fit. After an initial round, the judges select three from each category to compete in the final round. The field of competitors is somewhat uneven. While some students struggle to connect their skillsets to the job prompt, others clearly reference the job description and incorporate the judges’ feedback between rounds. Senior Kennedy Lawton’s confidence and likeability stand out as she makes a strong enough pitch that lands her a place in the final round Event founder and Associate Professor Patrick Leary www.jwu.edu
Presenter Mia Hall of Mia Hall 19 encourages students to chase a dream career.
Students appreciate presentersâ€™ insights.
Alumni panelists offer career advice.
Presenter and event planner Cristen Faherty â€™11 of Cristen & Co.
A cheering section in the audience
L-R: Ian Noble, senior producer at Metro Entertainment, and Megan Duclos, manager at Alex & Ani
of the sports category and a chance at a sponsor-donated gift basket. The next round is entertainment and includes Lacey, who wows everyone with calm self-assuredness, made even more impressive by the fact that she volunteered only moments prior. When she finishes, the audience claps and one student shouts, “That’s my girl!” Lacey is no stranger to networking at the event. During her first year at JWU, she was a liaison to keynote Cher Przelomski, founder and CEO of the Planning Factory, an event planning firm. Przelomski learned about Light the Candle, the nonprofit that Lacey founded at age 17 to help foster children in her community, and was so inspired by Lacey’s initiative that she offered to mentor her and donate to the cause. Months later, she brought Lacey and her mother to Delaware. “She set up a panel with two of her friends who run their own nonprofits so that they could give me advice,” said Lacey. When Lacey received a leadership award, Przelomski surprised her at the ceremony. “She was just really proud of the work I was doing and she still mentors me today.”
the problem and assures them that it’s okay to make mistakes so long as one learns from them. Afterwards, students like Allyson Jennings ’17 praise the alumni panelists for proving that “all of your hard work, money and everything that you are putting into this institution can get you somewhere.”
THE DAY CLOSES
that bookend the competition — one composed of industry leaders, the other of recent alumni — students have additional networking opportunities. Both panels dispense career advice. Professionals such as Mia Hall (public speaker and career transition consultant, Mia Hall 19 Inc.) advise the audience to have “verve and vigor,” and to look both vertically and horizontally for mentors. Ian Noble (senior producer, Metropolitan Entertainment) and Megan Duclos (senior manager of corporate events, Alex & Ani LLC) emphasize the importance of making the most of one’s position, even if it’s entry level. Alumni panelists share the life experiences that led them to this industry, from planning homecoming dances to playing the Madden videogame franchise. When Brittany Abber ’14 (touring and events coordinator for Columbia Records, where she interned while at JWU) shares a scheduling error she made during Adele’s recent tour, the audience collectively gasps. Everyone visibly relaxes as she shares how she solved
with Jeff Mann, general manager at Live Nation, an international concert and entertainment-show promoter, who talks about an early internship at TD Garden, where his boss gave him what he thought was a ridiculous assignment. They were replacing the arena’s floor and he was asked to create a plan for turning a profit on the old, worn parquet tiles. Mann identified tiles where the Celtics had executed historically key plays and devised a plan for framing and selling the tiles to fans. It was a huge success that led to advancement in his career. For this reason, he advises young professionals to “make your own breaks.” After Mann’s speech, the conference planners adjourn for the day. Once the auditorium empties, they change shoes, trading high heels and leather oxfords for tennis shoes and soft loafers. With comfy shoes and smiles, they begin to break down the event and discuss the day’s successes. Zoey Hall, the student who greeted attendees in the parking lot, admits to losing sleep the night before, worrying about whether or not people would come. “It made me feel proud of myself and the people I worked with on this,” she says. “To see it all come together and have a general manager of a huge company say, ‘I was really impressed by everything you guys did today’ was really emotional.” The planners head to an evening networking event at the Harborside Campus. There, in a room that overlooks the Providence River, planning committee members and student ambassadors network in earnest with speakers, faculty and staff. Gulls float on the the tidal river as business cards and handshakes are exchanged. Slowly, the sun sets on the water and the day in an orange and purple light show, heralding the successes of students with a well-made plan and a school that trusts their vision. JWU
L-R: Hospitality Associate Dean Bob Fink; PVD Campus SEEM Department Chair Lou Pullano; Associate Professor and Denver Campus SEEM Program Director Sean Daly ’04
L-R: Students Maria Kanellis-Bennett ’17, Alycia Kasperitis ’17 and Cassandra Tondreault ’18
AT THE TWO PANELS
RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT ROBERT STILES ’80 ENDOWS SCHOLARSHIP FOR JWU STUDENTS ROBERT STILES completed his associate degree
in Culinary Arts in 1980 and has progressed over the past 37 years to become managing director and principal of RobertDouglas Hotel Capital Advisors in California. He recently became reacquainted with his alma mater and recalls that JWU, unlike a large liberal arts college, forced him to focus on what he actually wanted to do with his life. The career orientation of his fellow undergraduates on Robert Stiles ’80 the Providence Campus motivated him to concentrate on how he should use his considerable intelligence (he graduated at the pinnacle of the program). He found himself fascinated with how hotels are built, and his career has taken him to Asia and beyond. A model of entrepreneurship, Stiles is committed to the idea of personal investment in business development. His experience here and beyond made it possible for him to consider a JWU scholarship that will be funded at $100,000 and available across the campuses, schools and majors. Who knows how the spirit of JWU will inspire another undergraduate to parlay a degree into a successful career? We are grateful to Stiles for bringing his fascinating story home to JWU with an inspirational gift to future students. ~ Michael Eatough
ACF FOOD SUSTAINABILITY COMPETITION UNDERWRITTEN BY THE SMITHFIELD FOUNDATION ON A SATURDAY IN OCTOBER, five JWU students and six guest
chefs from the university and larger culinary community participated in a sustainability competition hosted by the American Culinary Foundation. The event, held at the Providence Campus’ Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence, was underwritten with a $10,000 gift from the Smithfield Foundation. Because JWU’s culinary curriculum incorporates the use of local sustainable products, the competition was a fine opportunity for chefs and students to demonstrate their skills working with these ingredients, including Smithfield DuRoc Pork. They competed against a culinary standard for gold, silver and bronze medals. ~ Bonnie Duncan
The winners, L-R: Biao Hong ’17, gold; Jake Fristensky ’17, silver; Genoa Donaldson ’17, bronze; Devin Bogdan ’18, silver
A student server at one of Charlotte’s Epicurean Society events
CHARLOTTE CAMPUS EPICUREAN SCHOLARSHIP SOCIETY TO CELEBRATE 10 YEARS
t began as an opportunity for friends of the new campus of Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte to gather for dinner, conversation and a chance to hear from a culinary luminary who, with students, creates a meal and stands for a round of applause at the evening’s end. That was close to 10 years ago. In March, the Charlotte Campus celebrates a decade of the Epicurean Scholarship Society. Membership has grown as others have been invited to join the fun for a good cause: supporting the culinary arts and hospitality students who attend the JWU Charlotte Campus. Since the inaugural event in 2007, close to $1 million has been raised for scholarships and 144 students have been beneficiaries of members’ generosity. Society co-chairs Melissa and Mike McGuire have taken advantage of the opportunity to socialize and help students. “Melissa and I have been Epicurean Scholarship Society members from the beginning,” said Mike McGuire, CEO of Grant Thornton. “We love the events; the students’ creativity and commitment to excellence is always amazing. More important, though, is the opportunity we have to help people achieve their dreams. That’s what drives us — seeing students fulfill their potential and use their talents to do great things with their careers and for other people. There’s nothing better than that!” In 2015 when Charlotte Campus President Robert C. Mock Jr., Ed.D., joined the university, he was pleased to find community support for students with the Epicurean Scholarship Society. He said, “I am so grateful to Charlotte’s community leaders for supporting our students through their membership in the society. Thanks to their generosity, the scholarship recipients have less student debt when they graduate and are able to focus on achieving their professional dreams.” ~ Darlena Goodwin
PROVIDENCE EPICUREAN SCHOLARSHIP SOCIETY HOSTS CHEF DAVID KINCH ’81, ’14 HON.
the second meeting of the Providence Epicurean Scholarship Society at the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence. Fifty-four members enjoyed dinner and conversation and their membership fees will fund annual scholarships on the Providence Campus. Chef David Kinch ’81, ’14 Hon. prepared a delicious meal that included oysters and scallops using modern cooking techniques gleaned from his global studies and as debuted in his first cookbook, “Manresa: An Edible Reflection.”
~ Kim and Howard Sutton ’03 Hon.
Photo, top left: Mike Cohea Oher photos: Peter Goldberg
WE RECENTLY HAD THE PLEASURE of hosting
Clockwise from top left: Chef David Kinch ’81 ’14 Hon.; a dish served at the recent Epicurean Scholarship Society event in Providence; Howard Sutton ’03 Hon.; the event’s table setting
SNAPCHEF SCHOLARSHIP DONORS VISIT PROVIDENCE CAMPUS DANIELA AND TODD SNOPKOWSKI are JWU’s kind of people: small
business entrepreneurs invested in the hospitality industry and very positive about Johnson & Wales University. The Snopkowskis lunched on the Providence Campus recently to see how their money supports students in culinary arts and hospitality management. The couple, owners and geniuses behind SnapChef — a business that recruits, vets and provides line cooks — pledged a $25,000 scholarship to the university. The Snopkowskis made the trip from their Boston headquarters to the Cuisinart Center for Culinary Excellence for lunch prepared by students and faculty that the couple enjoyed with students. In addition to supporting students with scholarships, SnapChef provides internship opportunities for Johnson & Wales students — 93 and counting — that help them learn about SnapChef’s unique business. After lunch, the couple visited Jennifer Danaux ’11, who manages the SnapChef Rhode Island office and interned with the company before being hired as their regional operations manager. The Snopkowskis opened their business 15 years ago when they realized there was a business opportunity in providing chefs for local restaurants. Since then, they’ve placed hundreds of employees in restau-
The Snopkowskis pose with pastry students in Chef Olga Bravo’s class.
rants, hotels, corporate dining and other food service facilities. They also opened a training kitchen in Boston to make sure that they can keep up with the demand for their services. ~ Steven Shipley
ALUMNI CONNECT What does it mean to be connected to your alma mater?
It’s a question with many answers. For a number of alumni, staying connected means maintaining friendships with fellow graduates and faculty. For others, it’s about coming back to a campus, reading this magazine or attending events. All are correct answers.
In Alumni Relations, we think deeply about staying connected. It’s at the core of everything we do. Connections with the JWU you experienced, the university of today and its goals for the future are what we provide in the programs and services we offer. In recent months — on our campuses, across the United States, and virtually — we have brought together alumni in ways that demonstrate the power of connections. On these pages, you’ll find news about the many types of connections we’ve offered recently, including: • Connections on Campus: From Homecoming Weekends to Alumni Leaders on Campus, graduates have returned to celebrate and see their campus from a new perspective. • Connections off Campus: See news of alumni gatherings in Denver and Charlotte, as well as recaps of alumni events in Washington, D.C., and New York City. • C onnections Online: In the fall, we launched a new online portal and website, giving you even more opportunities to connect with each other, share news and volunteer for JWU. These events and services are powerful opportunities for alumni to rediscover Johnson & Wales and make new relationships. We want to provide more opportunities for you to connect with each other and us. That’s why in October, I asked 11 alumni to form the ad hoc Alumni Professional Programming Development Committee, charged with identifying the types of programs that will strengthen personal and professional networks for our graduates. I invite you to learn more about their work and where we are headed. I hope you will connect with Johnson & Wales in many ways and share your memories, talents and insights with us all. Best regards,
Kevin Wesley Executive Director of Alumni Relations
Connections on Campus Nothing beats returning to campus. As you revisit classrooms, common areas and local haunts — places where you spent some of your best years — memories come rushing back. And it’s even better to relive them with alumni who shared your experiences and continue to share your bond with the university. During the 2015–16 academic year, more than 2,000 alumni returned to Providence, North Miami, Denver and Charlotte — as well as the former Charleston and Norfolk — campuses for All-Class Reunions and Homecomings. These weekends are full of excitement as alumni, faculty, administrators and students get to know one another, reminisce and discover new commonalities. We also hold more intimate events such as seminars, wine tastings and networking dinners that offer unique opportunities to make more connections. This year, and every year, we invite you to campus — any campus — to explore the Johnson & Wales of 2017 and strengthen your connections to the university and fellow alumni. Come walk down memory lane, be inspired by the latest advances and expand your network. Come reconnect.
Connections off Campus In recent months, alumni and faculty members have reunited around the country. Here are a few highlights: In October, alumni and guests attended a reception and networking evening at the Wegmans store in Alexandria, Virginia. Johnson & Wales chefs from Wegmans stores in the Washington, D.C., area cooked for guests, shared their career paths and mingled with fellow alumni. Trustee Clay Snyder ’93, ’15 Hon., greeted guests and gave an update on JWU. Discovery Dinners were held in Denver and Charlotte last summer to introduce local alumni volunteers to Kevin Wesley, the university’s new executive director of alumni relations. In Denver, alumni gathered at Baur’s Restaurant, which featured cuisine from Executive Sous Chef William Long ’15. In Charlotte, graduates dined at Mama Ricotta’s,
owned by Frank Scibelli ’16 Hon., and met with Executive Chef Thomas Dyrness ’95. In November 2016, in conjunction with The Hotel Experience show in New York City, alumni toured the Row NYC property with Director of Sales Aleksandra Andrukiewicz-Truglio ’97 and mingled with School of Hospitality department chairs Karen Silva, Ed.D., and Michael Sabitoni ’90, ’92 M.S. Forty Culinary Nutrition alumni and guests attended a reception and networking event in Boston in October to coincide with the 2016 Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo. Faculty members Emily LaRose ’02, Jonathan Poyourow ’03, Todd Seyfarth ’01 and Suzanne Vieira were in attendance.
get connected at
ALUMNI CONNECT Connections Online
Looking for a mentor?
As wonderful as it is to visit campus, it’s not always possible. To keep JWU connections flourishing, the university is expanding its online offerings for graduates, faculty and staff. JWUconnect.com is the new multifunctional portal that facilitates connections. Want to get in touch with an old classmate? Find them in the directory, see what they’re up to and send them a message. Think you could use some career guidance? Find a mentor in your industry who has offered to spend time helping you. Want to share some news or start a group conversation? Post an update. The portal is an effective, convenient way to establish and maintain relationships. With notifications that you can control, you’ll be informed of the things that matter most. And with thousands of alumni already using it, you’re sure to make connections that might not otherwise be possible.
Already, 1,000 alumni from around the world have offered to provide insights and advice to fellow graduates. Finding a mentor is simple and takes only a few minutes. 1 Log into jwuconnect.com to start the process. 2 Click on the directory. 3 Open the “Willing to help” filter and select “Willing to be a mentor.” 4 Add any other filters relevant to your mentoring needs. 5 Review the profiles of potential mentors to find the right fit, then “Request mentorship.” Looking to become a mentor? 1 Create a profile on jwuconnect.com to start. 2 Check “Be a mentor” under the “Willing to help’’ section. (You may change this setting at any time.) 3 When a fellow graduate requests your mentorship, you will receive an email and can choose whether or not to accept the request. Helpful tips for a successful mentorship • Be respectful of each other’s time and express appreciation often. • Clearly define your goals and expectations, such as time and preferred method of contact. • Respectfully provide each other with feedback. • Remember that the goals of the mentee are the priority. • Keep the relationship professional.
get connected at
New Committee Advises on Professional Networking In October 2016, Alumni Relations appointed 11 graduates to the ad hoc Alumni Professional Programming Development Committee. The committee is charged with helping to identify the structure and format of future programming and services related to professional networking. From October to December 2016, members evaluated the recent history of Johnson & Wales’ alumni program, sought feedback from fellow alumni, provided examples of effective professional development and networking programming in which they participate, and joined in benchmarking calls with alumni offices at other universities. Chaired by Hazem Gamal ’90, the committee is finalizing its recommendations, which will be presented to university leadership later this spring. Alumni Relations expects to launch pilot programming in mid-2017.
“JWU has a very diverse alumni base all over the country and around the world,” Gamal said. “The committee is working to leverage that diversity into meaningful professional development programs that can be sustained by industry and interest-driven alumni groups that benefit from a better alignment of university resources.” Committee members include Hazem S. Gamal ’90 (chair) Loleta A. Beckett-Nicholson ’93 Marquis D. Cooper ’14 Seeratt Dutt ’13 Joy Z. Liu ’12 Joel C. Long ’88 ’93 M.S.
Bryan R. Oglesby ’95 Jason S. Pallen ’98 Kimberly E. Pisco ’84 Justine A. Sacks ’09 Ashley E. Vutech ’11
I donâ€™t need a mentor.
Get connected now! Visit the all new
CLASS NOTES 1
DJ DONNELLY PVD
BRENT MUCKRIDGE PVD
TIFFANY SAWYER PVD
SENECA, SOUTH CAROLINA
PALMETTO BAY, FLORIDA
 BENJAMIN CHRISTOPHER PVD
DJ, CEO of Triumph Donnelly Studios, announced that its newest television pilot, “Rockhand’s Army,” will be filmed in McDowell County, West Virginia. Chosen to bring jobs to a struggling area, DJ hopes that this former mining empire can someday be seen as an entertainment county.
Brent is the executive-inresidence in entrepreneurship for the School of Business at JWU’s North Miami Campus.
Tiffany is the corporate executive chef for Kessler Collection, an Orlando-based independentlyowned hotel company with 11 properties in the United States.
1989 RICHARD ELLIOTT CHS BEAUFORT, SOUTH CAROLINA
Richard retired in October 2016 after 26 years of food service in the Hilton Head, South Carolina, community.
1992 STEPHEN DEFFLEY PVD NEWBURYPORT, MASSACHUSETTS
Stephen is the chef and owner of Got Thyme Catering and Personal Chef Services in Newburyport.
1996 ALICIA FRAZIER PVD HIGH SPRINGS, FLORIDA
Alicia is the new development and partnership program coordinator for the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department based in Gainesville. LAUREL MILLER VAIL BASALT, COLORADO
Laurel has been named editor of Edible Aspen. The magazine focuses on celebrating the rich food community in Aspen and around Colorado. Laurel has been writing for the magazine since 2008 and is thrilled to be taking on a more immersive role.
MANALAPAN, NEW JERSEY
Aleks is the director of sales at Row NYC in Manhattan.
Benjamin is executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, in Avon. The hotel recently opened its own signature restaurant with Christopher at the helm. Its eclectic menu highlights locally-sourced and sustainable ingredients. PAUL HOELTER PVD COLLINGSWOOD, NEW JERSEY
1998 TANEYA WILLIAMSONMCKIE PVD SOUTH AMBOY, NEW JERSEY
Taneya is a professor of hospitality management at Hudson County Community College.
Paul is a chef for OTG Management at Philadelphia International Airport. OFIR KATZ ’02 MBA
NORTH PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Ofir has been appointed the development marketing manager for the Providence Tourism Council.
 LEANNE ADAMSON PVD DENVER, COLORADO
Leanne and her husband, Royce Oliveira, opened To The Wind Bistro in Denver in 2014. They have won numerous awards for their restaurant, including ranking in the 25 best restaurants in Denver’s 5280 magazine every year since opening.
PVD Providence NMI North Miami DEN Denver CLT Charlotte CHS Charleston NOR Norfolk VAIL Vail International ONL Online
CLASS NOTES 3
AMANDEEP RAI PVD
 DIEGO COCONATI NMI ERASMO CASIANO DEN
 ANDREW GRUEL DEN
KRISTI DUKOFF PVD
BRIDGEWATER, NEW JERSEY
RIVERSIDE, RHODE ISLAND
Andrew was named by Nation’s Restaurant News as one of 50 industry-shakers in their annual power list. After Gruel graduated from the Denver Campus, he directed a nonprofit project called “Seafood for the Future” at The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, California, where he strove to bring together a community for sustainable seafood. He then went on to open his first food truck, Slapfish. Today, only three years later, he has grown his small mobile business from one to four trucks and now has more than 10 Slapfish locations across the nation, providing casual, cost-effective, delicious seafood and educating his consumers on sustainable methods.
Kristi is the events and catering coordinator at Ellie’s Bakery in Providence.
Aman has been appointed vice president, branch sales manager at BankNewport’s Pontiac Avenue branch in Cranston.
KEVIN SBRAGA NMI
Diego and Erasmo are opening Create Cooking School in Stapleton, Colorado, this spring. Their classes will teach intimate groups not only how to cook delicious food from scratch, but also to enjoy the process.
2002  AKANKSHA AGA MBA
NORTH PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Akanksha is the experience director for FLIK Hospitality Group.
Kevin is a guest judge on this season’s “MasterChef” on the Fox television network. Kevin is the chef and owner of Sbraga Dining, which includes Sbraga and The Fat Ham in Philadelphia.
2005 PHILLIP BUTTACAVOLI PVD NEW YORK, NEW YORK
CUMBERLAND, RHODE ISLAND
JAMES SAURMAN CLT BROOKLYN, NEW YORK
Jamie is a real estate salesperson for SPIRE in New York City.
Phillip is general manager at the Altamarea Group in New York City.
MEGAN GLYNN PVD
PAWTUCKET, RHODE ISLAND
CHESTER PEARCE PVD
Megan is marketing director for the Knot Standard in New York.
Chester is a technical learning partner at Collette Travel Services in Pawtucket.
JOSEPH POTHIER DEN
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
GUTTENBERG, NEW JERSEY
Francesco is operations manager for The New American Academy Charter School in Brooklyn.
Chris is controller of the Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau. Prior to joining the bureau, he served as controller of the Little Rock Marriott.
Joe is the purchasing assistant for Italco Food Products Inc. DANIEL SIEGELMAN PVD SUNNY ISLES BEACH, FLORIDA
Dan is the chef de cuisine at Upland (a Starr restaurant) in Miami Beach.
 L-R: Michaela Walsh ’15 PVD, performance line cook; Kelsey Trent ’15 DEN, performance line cook; and Mario Limaduran ’14 DEN, performance sous chef, are colleagues at EXOS, a high-intensity training facility in Phoenix, Arizona. They help athletes meet personal goals and improve performance by catering to specific dietary needs.
 MACY PINKUSSOHN ’15 MBA DEN
YEJIN CHOI PVD
MEGAN CREVELT NMI
MELISSA CEE PVD
FLUSHING, NEW YORK
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA
Mary (Yejin) Choi is the pastry chef at Scribner’s Catskill Lodge in Hunter, New York.
Megan is a gifted-and-talented education specialist at West Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas.
RYAN SHEA PVD HUNTINGTON STATION, NEW YORK
LAURA GOMEZ PVD
Ryan is a senior publisher at Mediaplanet, CEO of Manhattan Digest and a freelance writer for US magazine.
Laura is an administrative assistant in the president’s office at Amherst College.
2009/2010  CHRISTOPHER MCKENZIE DEN MATTHEW VEGA DEN VAIL, COLORADO
Chris and Matthew own two award-winning restaurants in Colorado: Nudoru Ramen Bar in Vail, which was recently voted in the top five ramen shops in the world by Ski magazine, and Expert Burger, an all-natural, locally sourced burger joint in Eagle. They plan to open a second location of Expert Burger in Vail.
Macy has been appointed catering sales manager at The Curtis Hotel in downtown Denver.
Melissa is group sales manager at the Wyndham Hamilton Park Hotel in Florham Park. LAUREN LOMONACO PVD LINCOLN, RHODE ISLAND
Lauren is a claims supervisor with Amica Insurance in Lincoln.
ASHLEY NEWTON PVD HAVERHILL, MASSACHUSETTS
Ashley is the sales administration coordinator at Peterson Party Center in Woburn.
 BRIGETTE GRIMES DEN GLENDALE, ARIZONA
Brigette is chief of clinical nutrition services at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington.
HACKETTSTOWN, NEW JERSEY
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
2011 JUSTIN ADAMS PVD PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Justin is an outreach worker for Communities for People in Providence.
Chayanin is chef de cuisine at Dirt Candy in New York. MARC SOMMERHALTER
EMERSON, NEW JERSEY
Marc is the district sales manager on premise at Bai in Hamilton.
AMANDA SULLIVAN PVD EAST GRANBY, CONNECTICUT
Amanda is a food production manager for Aramark at the University of Hartford. STEVEN TISDALE CLT DANBURY, CONNECTICUT
Steven is head chef at Chacon’s on Winyah Bay. www.jwu.edu
CLASS NOTES BIRTHS 10
 LAUREN MACKINTOSHZEBROWSKI DEN
JULIE COSTABILE PVD
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Julie is the director of talent relations at The Chef Agency in New York City. JOSEPH SOMMER PVD NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Juan is the executive chef at Los Chingones, a Mexican street food restaurant in Denver.
 JUAN CORONADO DEN DENVER, COLORADO
JOSEPH FONSECA DEN DENVER, COLORADO
Joey is in South Africa with the Peace Corps. He is researching permaculture gardens and agriculture and passing on his findings to the community there.
Joseph owns Whitestone Works, a promotional products and corporate gift company newly based in Brooklyn. Whitestone Works has recently acquired American Icon Industries Inc., which expands the brand apparel offerings to include in-house screen printing.
 PATRICK EGAN ’01 PVD AND KIMBERLY EGAN ’08 CLT Colin Patrick
 CHACARA (EVANS) HARVIN NMI and Christopher London
Lauren is the catering and event manager at The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa.
CAROLINE SILVA PVD SEEKONK, MASSACHUSETTS
Caroline is a collaborations manager with Velvet Caviar in Brooklyn. JAMES SULLIVAN PVD HAMPTON BAYS, NEW YORK
James is the floor manager at Sarabeth’s Park Avenue South in New York.
MARRIAGES 1977 ARTHUR SOLVANG PVD and Lori Ann Braun June 11, 2016
 KEVIN PONS PVD and Taylor Mahanna October 22, 2016
2008  WHITNEY DASTA CLT and Justin Solich October 22, 2016
2010  AMBER (MORHIDGE) BECKWITH PVD and Russell Beckwith September 3, 2016
2011  ANTOINETTE HICKS
and STEVEN FAIRBAIRN
October 1, 2016
2011/2012  SHAWN POWERS ’11
and BRITTANY MOLESKY ’12
September 24, 2016
2014/2015  DANIEL DWYER ’14
and ASHLEY TAVARES ’15
September 10, 2016
CLASS NOTES 2015
VICTORIA PETOSA PVD
STEPHANIE CHEEVER PVD
Victoria is food service director with FLIK at FMC Corporation in Philadelphia.
SOUTH BERWICK, MAINE
Stephanie is a catering sales associate with Holiday Inn Foxboro-Mansfield in Mansfield, Massachusetts. STEFANIE COSTAS PVD NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Stefanie is guest services manager at the Radisson Martinique in New York. ALYSSA DRAPEAU ’16 MBA
Alyssa is an assistant speaker bureau manager at The CM Group in Hingham. CARLI FAUST PVD ESTERO, FLORIDA
Carli is the season ticket sales coordinator for the Florida Everblades/Germain Arena. She was recently profiled by TeamWork Online. The company choose 100 of their 100,000 recruits to celebrate the connections they’ve made between employers and candidates in the sports and events business. KELCEY FLEAGLE DEN DENVER, COLORADO
Kelcey is the marketing manager for Epicurean Group catering company. NAYDENE GOMES PVD DANIELSON, CONNECTICUT
Naydene is a paralegal at Tapalian Law in Providence, Rhode Island. JACQUELINE LENZI PVD NEWFIELD, NEW JERSEY
Jackie is a claims adjuster at Amica Mutual Insurance on Long Island, New York. EMMANUEL MARSEILLE
PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Manny is an audit analyst with Massachusetts School Building Authority in Boston.
NORTH WALES, PENNSYLVANIA
BENJAMIN SIEGEL PVD MONMOUTH BEACH, NEW JERSEY
Ben is part of the management operating team of The Asbury in Asbury Park. It was awarded Best Hotel 2016 by USA Today.
2016 JOSHUA BECKER DEN AURORA, COLORADO
Joshua is sous chef at the Quality Italian Steakhouse, opening this spring in Denver’s popular Halcyon Hotel. AMY PATEL PVD BOONTON, NEW JERSEY
Amy is a patent assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. BRANDON PUCKETT PVD PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
Brandon is a line cook at Milk Money in Providence. REBECCA TOBEY DEN AURORA, COLORADO
Rebecca is an event coordinator for Sage Hospitality at the Denver Airport Marriott. She also acts as trade show manager for the Rocky Mountain Bridal Show, the largest bridal show in Denver, and for the Wedding Party Show in Boise, Idaho.
CHERYL R. DAME ’81 October 13, 2016 MARY HALL ’81 December 13, 2015
JOYCE E. BAFFARO ’82 May 26, 2016
LESLIE SCOTT ’65 April 6, 2014
ANGELA BRUNETTI ’82 June 14, 2016
EARL FENN JR. ’66 November 26, 2016
JEFFREY D. CROSS ’82 July 4, 2016
ELLEN J. BITTMAN ’70 April 18, 2015
HARRY N. NOTHSTEIN ’82 November 5, 2016
WILLIAM F. MCCARTHY ’75 May 29, 2016
GREGORY A. WILLMOTT ’82 October 3, 2016
JOSEPH G. ARNOLD ’76 July 11, 2016
EDWARD W. MCARDLE ’83 June 15, 2016
ERNEST J. BICKNELL ’76 July 4, 2013
VINCENT R. PORRECA ’83 June 16, 2016
WILLIAM FRANKLIN ’76 October 4, 2015
THOMAS M. GOULD ’84 December 8, 2016
DONALD E. GLADU ’76 June 10, 2016
RUSSELL J. REILLY ’84 August 21, 2016
JOSEPH F. SWEETLAND ’76 July 13, 2016
WILLIAM J. SPITZNAGEL ’84 June 1, 2016
LEROY J. WALTERS ’76 December 9, 2016
PAUL E. GEDEN ’85 October 8, 2016
DAVID B. CURTIS ’77 April 12, 2015
CHARLES NOONAN ’85 June 6, 2016
JOHN J. WALKER ’78 September 4, 2016
LEE H. SKOGLUND ’85 October 28, 2016
BRUCE J. BAILEN ’79 May 5, 2013
DAWN E. DORSCHEL ’86 September 27, 2016
NEIL C. DEANGELO ’79 July 13, 2016
RONALD H. SHAPIRO ’86 May 17, 2016
PAUL R. COEN ’80 April 26, 2014
EDWIN A. COOLBAUGH ’87 April 7, 2016
MICHAEL J. CONFALONE ’80 August 15, 2016
JAMES A. HARRIS ’87 October 7, 2016
LOUIS C. FRISOLONE ’80 October 13, 2016
JAMES P. O’BRIEN ’87 November 3, 2016
MARK P. PETERS ’80 November 15, 2016
LINDA M. PINAULT ’87 August 29, 2016
WAYNE G. BAKER ’81 July 26, 2014
THOMAS MIRANDA ’88 November 4, 2016
GARY L. BERRY ’81 August 27, 2016
JANET D. TOPOROSKI ’88 August 6, 2016
MICHAEL A. CORTEZZO ’81 July 14, 2016
JOHN J. BIZON ’89 July 24, 2016
JEFFREY H. HOWES ’89 October 30, 2016
RICHARD D. SMITH ’05 July 26, 2016
RONALD JANIOR ’89 May 20, 2016
MONIQUE WRIGHT ’05 November 20, 2016
BRIAN J. THIBEAULT ’89 May 18, 2016
STEPHEN M. BOTELHO ’06 September 14, 2016
AMY M. BECK ’91 July 27, 2016
MARTHINA N. MADUKA ’06 October 14, 2016
PAUL S. TAYLOR ’92 July 28, 2016
BRANDON MCDONOUGH ’07 September 18, 2016
JAMES P. GARDNER ’93 October 24, 2016
MICHAEL K. RICHARDS ’07 October 10, 2016
ROBERT T. HESTER ’93 August 2, 2016
ARTHUR D. SOBEN ’08 August 15, 2016
BRUCE D. POTTER ’93 March 28, 2013
NICHOLAS A. POWERS ’10 September 14, 2016
ERIC NELSON ’94 October 29, 2016
MARK A. MCAFEE ’15 October 11, 2016
WAYNE BRYAN ’93 A devoted graduate and faculty member
JAMES M. SUTHERLAND ’94 May 24, 2016
NICOLE L. LOSTOCCO ’16 September 5, 2016
An inspiration to many, Wayne Bryan ’93 had a unique spirit that was felt throughout Johnson & Wales University. When he passed away on December 15, 2016, after battling cancer, the North Miami Campus truly felt the impact as faculty, staff, students and alumni mourned the loss of one of the most memorable individuals to grace the campus.
FE CREAGH ’96 November 15, 2016 DEREK A. MACNEIL ’96 October 13, 2016 DAVID WHELAN ’96 August 21, 2016 ABIGAIL L. DEGLER ’97 August 25, 2016 RICHARD S. FALCK ’97 October 23, 2016 MICHAEL E. HASSEY ’98 May 22, 2016 SUZANNE G. JACQUES ’98 October 2, 2016 PAUL M. BAKER ’00 May 10, 2016 ANTHONY F. GENTILE ’01 October 6, 2016 MICHAEL A. KING ’01 October 22, 2016 LINA MENON ’02 December 10, 2016 CHARMAINE ROBERTS ’02 November 7, 2016 MICHAEL J. FUTRAL ’03 September 14, 2016 JOSEPH F. CASEY ’04 October 10, 2016
FACULTY, STAFF AND FRIENDS ELGIN T. BOYCE JR. June 24, 2016 WILLIAM E. COLE December 4, 2016 WALTER J. CONTI October 8, 2016 ROBERT R. DUMAS October 24, 2016 LICIA C. DWYER October 19, 2016 HOWARD B. GELT July 11, 2016 LAMAR M. HENDRICKS July 1, 2016 GRETCHEN HOENER October 16, 2011 SOCRATES Z. INONOG October 15, 2015 STELLA R. THURSTON October 7, 2015 SANFORD L. ZIFF ’99 HON. January 6, 2016
“Wayne had a way with people,” said Larry Rice, Ed.D., ’90, president of JWU’s North Miami Campus. “There wasn’t one person who set foot on this campus as a student, faculty or staff member who was not welcomed by Wayne, whether it was by way of him inviting you into one of the culinary labs to taste a meal he had prepared or sharing some of his great stories that would bring a smile to anyone’s face.” Bryan joined the North Miami Campus in 1993 and was soon promoted to full-time faculty in the College of Culinary Arts. During this time, he represented JWU in numerous articles and television segments as an expert in myriad topics ranging from cooking for children to nutrition. Bruce Ozga ’92, dean of culinary education, recalls, “He was a part of the university fabric; his hard work mixed with his sense of humor made him a favorite amongst his peers and students.” Bryan’s passion for Johnson & Wales began as a student at the Providence Campus, where he received his associate degree in Culinary Arts before going on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management from Florida International University. Bryan then finished his master’s degree in Nutrition at Kansas State University. “One thing about Wayne was that he loved JWU and it was demonstrated in the way he taught the students and his pride in being a part of the campus community,” Rice said.
CAREER UPDATE Supersize It! Joe LaRue ’07 was born with a gift. “Boxers box, runners run,” he says. “I was given a large appetite so I’m an eater.” (His former wife would bring a book when they dined out.) As journalist Sam Eifling noted, “LaRue’s superpower is the ability to down food in Costco portions at hors d’oeuvres speeds.” The 57-year-old independent competitive eater graduated from the North Miami Campus with a degree in Culinary Arts. The Utah resident has worked for Meals on Wheels and is now a chef and manager for Sodexo, a food services and facilities management company headquartered in France. How do people respond when they learn you’re a competitive eater?
Some people find it utterly disgusting while others find it fascinating. Yes, it’s pure gluttony. On the other hand, if people knew how much food is thrown away in the food service industry, the amount that we eat isn’t even a drop in the bucket. If someone says, “But there are people starving!” I ask, “What are you doing about it if that’s your stance?”
What records have you held?
I held the mall food record for eating 105 ounces of mixed food court fare in six minutes and the New York pancake record for consuming 35 plate-size pancakes in 15 minutes. I held the sweet corn record for eight years (46 cobs in 12 minutes), but that was finally broken by one ear. In 2005 I was ranked 7th in the world for the corn on the cob win and after my placement in a Nathan’s Famous hot dog contest. I held a lumber baked-bean record for eating 84 ounces — just shy of a gallon — in 88 seconds. You didn’t want to be in a room with me after that one. I held a record for eating four pounds of sour garlic pickles in five minutes. It was so much saline I couldn’t leave the hotel that night.
Tell us a couple tricks of the trade.
If a contest has hamburger and fries, fries are first because they go down quicker hot. Then there’s chipmunking: Near the end of a contest, you stuff so much food in your face that you look like a chipmunk. There’s a grace period to swallow whatever is still in your mouth.
Can someone make a living doing this?
I only know a handful of people who do. Usually what you win covers your expenses so at most you can break even. My last contest I won a deluxe pellet grill that retailed for $1,250.
What have you gained from the sport (so to speak)?
A brother! My mother had a child out of wedlock in the 1940s, when children in that situation usually went up for adoption. Decades later, my brother saw an article and found me through the reporter. Two months after he contacted me we were spending Thanksgiving together.
~ as told to Denise Dowling
At the corn contest a tired jaw prevented me from eating more so I developed an apparatus that allowed me to do weight training on my jaw. Competitive eaters slowly increase the volume of water they drink. Some people drink 2 1/2 gallons of water at a time because it stretches your stomach. I’ve also used solid foods like oatmeal — both acclimate your system to consuming quickly. You also learn to swallow progressively larger items. Chewing during a contest is not conducive to finishing quickly so I work on less chewing and faster swallowing. We try not to advertise the methods. It takes training and time to build up to these things — plus there’s a choking risk.
photos courtesy of lorikurtzman.com
What’s your training regimen?
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