Hotel Management Gala Puts Students in Charge
December 12, 2008
That's part of what second-year Hotel Management students learn when they plan and execute all aspects of the annual Hotel Management Gala. The planning and execution of the event, in fact, is the entire event planning course.
This year's gala was held November 28 and 29, 2008, in D Cafeteria at Fanshawe's London campus. Four hundred people paid $45 each to enjoy a seven-course meal followed by an evening of entertainment. The theme was Paris, je t'aime (Paris, I love you) and the menu reflected that, offering, among other things, lobster bisque, duck confit, foie gras pâté and bœuf bourguignon as well as baguette.
Hotel Management Coordinator Dale Dolson said the annual, end-of-semester event makes students responsible for every aspect of the gala. "They plan it," he said, "they market it, they sell the tickets, they plan a décor, they hire the entertainment and they cook it, serve it and clean it up."
There were 80 students in their year's events planning course and they all got to select which part of the event they wanted to participate in by joining various teams. "We have a fundraising team, we have a décor team, we have a kitchen team and a dining room service team and a bar team," Dolson said. There is also a five-person management team elected at the start of the semester. The management team monitors other departments as part of their course work.
"Obviously, we have to facilitate this and we have to guide and make sure their ideas are good and solid ideas," Dolson said, but he added they encourage the students to be creative.
One part of the gala that might seem daunting is preparing the seven-course meal when all you have is a basic cooking course.
Dolson said when students choose Hotel Management they are not necessarily kitchen oriented and may not even want to cook "but we try to inspire them to at least have enough confidence to try."
"The thought behind it," Dolson said, "is that students can at least have a sense and feel and speak a bit of the language of the kitchen because potential hotel managers are going to be dealing with food and beverage and chefs so they need to have some knowledge or fluency of what that's like."
For the gala, students are supported in the kitchen by a professional chef/instructor. "He's there," Dolson said. "He meets with them and there's a lot of teaching that goes on but it gives them a sense of what it's really like and what labour there is to produce something like this."
Because it is a two-day event, Dolson said, students learn from the experiences they gain on Friday night to make improvements for the Saturday gala.
"There are going to be mistakes," Dolson said, "because most of them haven't done this before." He added that the mistakes aren't noticed by guests.
"We have a large teaching group. A lot of us volunteer to work with them on this. We don't allow big mistakes to happen that would ever embarrass them but we try and get them to think for themselves."
Students are evaluated in a number of ways including essays, quizzes and on their efforts during the event. Students also grade each other by doing team evaluations.