Teens cook alongside pros to prep VIP dinner for 500 at DeVos

GRAND RAPIDS: When Muskegon Area Career Tech Center (MACTC) students Brandon Archer (Reeths-Puffer), Kayla Carlson (Orchard View), Emily Little (Reeths-Puffer), Ryker LaFlame (Holton), and Kayne Picklesimer (Orchard View) enrolled in the Hospitality & Tourism program they never imagined that before they even graduated high school they’d be working alongside professionals in the industry.  Yet these students are assisting Van Eerden chefs in the DeVos Banquet Kitchen yesterday and today (March 6) as they slice, dice, cook, and serve dinner for this year’s 500 VIP guests.


The Van Eerden Foodservices Food Show highlights various products from dozens of vendors in the food industry. The VIP dinner will honor Van Eerden’s top customers. As Food Show organizers sought help for preparing the meal, Van Eerden representative, and MACTC Hospitality & Tourism advisory team member, Katie Cappellucci suggested a team of second-year Hospitality & Tourism students from the MACTC. After visiting the program and meeting with instructors and students, Van Eerden Brands Lead Joe Ceraulo invited five students to join their chefs.


“This is an amazing opportunity for our students,” shared MACTC Hospitality & Tourism Instructor Elissa Penczar. “To work in a large commercial kitchen, alongside professional chefs, gives our students an edge as they prepare for their future careers.”


Archer, Carlson, Little, and Picklesimer began prep work with the chefs on Monday, March 5. LaFlame joined the four Tuesday afternoon as they put the finishing touches on the VIP meal. Tuesday evening, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., all five students will have the opportunity to serve their meal to guests for a full banquet prep experience. On Wednesday, the five who assisted with the meal will be joined by 12 other second-year Hospitality & Tourism students as they attend the invitation-only Food Show.


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