Rachel Watts is a 2016 International Gold & Silver Plate Society stipend recipient. She attends Cal Poly Pomona and is majoring in hospitality. Find out what she had to say when we asked her a few questions about her foodservice stipend and future career.
What is your major & what made you decide on it?
I am a hospitality major at The Collins College of Hospitality Management. In 2013, I finished community college with an associate's degree in Theater Arts with no idea what to do next. I moved from California to Florida, and worked in the Disney College Program in entertainment operations. During my time there, I realized that hospitality was my true passion, and one year later I moved back home to search for hospitality schools.
How has your scholarship enabled you to pursue a career in foodservice?
This stipend means a great deal to me, because it has allowed me to gain invaluable experience in foodservice without negatively influencing my studies. I have spent the last few months commuting to downtown LA to work as a catering supervisor for the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The hours are inconsistent because of football season, but the experience has been very important to me. Thanks to the stipend I received from IFMA, I don't need to worry about falling behind in school or working multiple jobs.
What was your first job in foodservice?
My first job in foodservice was as a pantry coordinator for the Fresno Grizzlies. I coordinated the sales and execution of the 33 VIP suites at the minor league baseball park. I enjoyed that position and environment so much, that over the course of the season I crossed trained as a runner, set up, and server. When the suites supervisor left on maternity leave at the end of the season, I was able to step in and supervise through the end of the season.
What would you say is your "dream job" after you graduate?
My dream job is to become a food and beverage manager in training at a large convention or resort hotel.
What have you learned that you will apply to a career in foodservice?
I have learned a great deal about teamwork, and how to come together with people with different backgrounds and experiences in order to produce the best outcome possible.
What are some of the challenges students like you face in today's world of foodservice?
As students like myself begin to enter the world of foodservice management, we will have to face the challenge of keeping up with the latest technological advances while also providing innovative dining experiences to meet the demands of the modern consumer.
Do you have mentor? How have they helped you?
I am fortunate to have Steve Burns, the VP of Operations for Sysco Los Angeles, as my personal mentor. He has advised me on work issues, interviewing, resume editing, and management principles not often taught in the classroom.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal would have to be from a tasting day at Legends Hospitality with a menu created by our regional executive chef. It included the following small plates items:
Mini Wedge Salad
hearts of baby romaine, roasted peppers, bacon lardon
kaboucha squash, sweet basil
Curry Chicken Satay
Farro & Blackberry Salad
Endive, white balsamic, spinach
Wild Salmon Sashimi
Fried Capers, Fennel, Meyer Lemon
Spicy Brown Mustard, House Made Pickles
What companies have you worked at for internships?
The Disney College Program & Legends Hospitality at Angel Stadium
About The IFMA Educational Foundation
The IFMA Education Foundation promotes the next generation of foodservice leaders. The Foundation is committed to give qualified culinary, marketing or food science students support toward completion of education requirements. Over the years, we've accomplished our goal by providing scholarships, publications, educational programs, internships and stipends to accredited institutions and individuals enrolled in accredited institutions.
Do you want to support the next generation of foodservice by making a donation to IFMA's Education Foundation?
Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.