A Day in the Life: High School Students Get Hospitality Lesson

More than 300 San Diego area high school students learned what it takes to make the grade in the hospitality field at the 16th annual High School Hospitality Conference.

The event, held Friday, February 21 at the convention center, introduced high school juniors and seniors to hospitality professionals from downtown hotels and restaurants. The San Diego Convention Center has been a proud partner in this event since 1999.

Organized by San Diego State University’s Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism and the San Diego Unified School District, the conference is designed to prepare students who are already enrolled in hospitality and culinary programs for the careers they can expect post-graduation.

The San Diego County Restaurant Association is also a key sponsor and partner since the program’s inception, helping to underwrite the conference and the programs at the school.

“I refer to our participation as ‘practical magic,’ mentoring our future leaders in the hospitality industry in San Diego,” said DeeAnne Snyder, director of event services at the convention center. “Watching the excited look on the faces of the students is a wonderful reminder to those of us who have worked in San Diego’s hospitality industry for many years why we so enjoy what we do each and every day.”

A panel of speakers, including the convention center’s Executive Vice President & COO Tom Mazzocco and Centerplate Regional Executive Chef Jeff Leidy, kicked off the event. The students then broke into groups for behind-the-scenes tours of hotels and restaurants.

Students from Mount Miguel, Mira Mesa, Morse, Madison, Scripps Ranch, Hilltop, Hoover and Garfield High Schools toured the convention center.  Senior Executive Sous Chef Chris Bilbrey, of Centerplate, which manages the convention center’s food and beverage production, led the group on a tour of the facility’s 17,000 square-foot kitchen. The tour included the supply warehouse, the walk-in freezer, ovens and prep stations, while providing an education on the convention center’s recycling and composting efforts.

Carl Winston, director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at San Diego State University, calls the event a “win, win, win.”

“When we first started, we expected it to become a ‘feeder’ for our school,” he said. “And, while we do get students enrolled, it has become far more important for our current students who act as mentors to the high school students.  This helps our students develop their leadership skills which in turn makes them even better future leaders for the local industry.”

Posted by Barbara Moreno, on February 28, 2014
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