Hospitality Faculty Members to Retire After Decades of Service

After the Spring 2014 semester, professors David Talty and Nestor Portocarrero (center) will bid farewell to the Chaplin School and enter retirement. Combined, the professors have dedicated over 50 years of teaching, mentoring, and supporting students embarking on careers in hospitality. At a quiet reception earlier this month, deans Mike Hampton (second left), Randall Upchurch (left), Mohammad Qureshi (second right), and Rocco Angelo (right) were present to acknowledge the professors' academic efforts and years of dedication to the School. David Talty has taught at FIU since 1989 and was instrumental in formulating the School's restaurant management curriculum and internship programs for both the undergraduate and graduate programs. He came to the School with extensive an resume of experience in developing and operating restaurant properties and has been a consultant to the foodservice industry. “The impact of David’s efforts is immeasurable in terms of preparing Chaplin School candidates to be critical thinkers, reflective individuals, professional in demeanor, and leaders in their own right," said Dean Randall Upchurch. Since 1981, Nestor Portocarrero has taught Accounting and Finance at FIU. During his time at the University, he has received numerous awards and honors including an award for excellence in teaching, two Teaching Incentive Program awards from the Florida Board of Regents, an award for Excellence in Service, and was recognized by alumni as the professor who contributed the most to the academic growth of students at the Chaplin School. "Nestor was also pivotal in developing the School’s student learning outcome process. The net result of his efforts is a system that helps faculty and administration track program learning outcomes which are so critical to our School in producing graduates who are ready to start their careers," said Dean Randall Upchurch. With decades [...]

Diageo Latin America & Caribbean Wins the Beacon Council’s 2014 Education Award

Earlier this month, the Beacon Council presented Diageo Latin America & Caribbean with the prestigious 2014 Beacon Award for Education at the 12th Annual Beacon Awards held at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. The organization was recognized for their transformational program Learning Skills For Life, a partnership with the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. The program offers eight free weeks of skills and job-readiness training and certification, including an internship component. Training is focused on teaching customer service skills and issuing relevant certifications, such as bartender, restaurant server, food handler, banquet setup, and guest services. FIU and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute offer the Banquet Server certification as well as the Restaurant Server certification. FIU offers the Service Excellence certificate and the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association offers the ServSafe Food Handler certification. Since the partnership began in 2012, over 250 participants successfully completed the community outreach program, which also offers assistance with job placement.  Jeffrey Wahl, FIU Project Manager of Learning Skills for Life, states that this transformative community outreach program  not only provides participants with viable new employment skills, but upon completion of program will also have a sharpened awareness of customer service skills.  “Although practical skills training and certification introduces participants to new employment opportunities, it is the emphasis on life skills and customer service skills that truly separate our candidates from other entry-level potential employees.  Our graduates learn how to dress for success, how to write resumes and cover letters, practice through mock interviews with industry human resource directors, and most importantly, how to make a positive difference amongst others.” The Beacon Council is Miami-Dade County's official economic development partnership. Learn more about the Diageo LAC FIU partnership. [...]

2014 Loews Miami Beach Beach Hotel Scholars

The Chaplin School recently celebrated the Loews Miami Beach Hotel Scholars for Spring 2014 in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Lab during one of the School's dining events. In 2009 Loews Miami Beach Hotel established a scholarship fund to recognize outstanding students in the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, with a focus on lodging. This semester’s recipients were Liudmila Katsiak, Leah Dieffenthaller, Marrian Barreto, Alfredo Diaz, Britney Nasta, and Jose Paniagua. Pictured from left to right: Mr. Alex Tonarelli, Chaplin School alumus and General Manager of Loews Miami Beach Hotel Susana Fernandez, Regional Director of Human Resources at Loews Miami Beach Hotel Student recipients Liudmila Katsiak, Leah Dieffenthaller, and Marrian Barreto Mutlu Kucuk, Hotel Manager for Loews Miami Beach Hotel

2014 Career Portfolio Competition Winners Announced

Nine hospitality students recently had the opportunity to pitch their experience and showcase their portfolios to industry leaders at the 2014 Career Portfolio Competition. In addition to providing tangible proof of their abilities, the students were thrilled to get exposure to industry leaders and gain insight from the process. This year, three students were recognized for their impressive portfolios. Each winner received a cash prize. This year's winners were: First Place ($300) Liudmila Katsiak View Ludmila's Portfolio Second Place ($200) Gedma Estrada View Gedma's Portfolio Third Place ($100) Felipe E. Cortez View Felipe's Portfolio

Two Students Selected as Worlds Ahead Graduates

Congratulations to hospitality students Jenifer Bound (pictured left) and Gabriela Moreno (pictured right) who were both selected as FIU Worlds Ahead Graduates for Spring 2014. To be Worlds Ahead, soon-to-be graduates must be nominated by their school or college for their extraordinary achievements. This semester, the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management's Jenifer Bound and Gabriela Moreno earned their place of honor thanks to their innovative thinking and outstanding research involvement. Jenifer Bound has served as teaching assistant to several hospitality chef instructors during her time at the Chaplin School. For two years in a row, she has worked with celebrity chefs at the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE. Just last year, her "Holy Smokes" spice blend was selected as a winner of the Badia Soul of Cooking Spice Contest (read more about Jenifer's spice blend win). After graduation, Jenifer plans to work as an executive/pastry chef in a restaurant where sustainability and the use of local food are a priority. She also intends to pursue a graduate degree in Public Health at FIU. With a passport filled with a lifetime of travel experiences, graduate student Gabriela Moreno wanted to study hospitality and tourism management in more depth. As a graduate research assistant under the leadership of hospitality professor and mentor Dr. Miranda Kitterlin, Gabriela collected data for research initiatives, assisted with preparations for 15 conference presentations, and helped prepare research papers for publication in four peer-reviewed journals. Kitterlin states that Gabriela's research skills are unparalleled among her peers and that she has been solely responsible for the execution of data collection for three projects. In addition, Gabriela credits mentors Dr. Sandro Formica and Dr. Dan Cormany for providing her [...]

New Brewing Science Lab, New Levels in Research and Innovation

The Chaplin School celebrated the opening of the Brewing Science Laboratory alongside Brooklyn Brewery’s American brewmaster and best-selling author, Garrett Oliver, at an introduction event on April 3. The new lab will enhance the School’s existing Brewing Science Program and provide the necessary facilities to position the School as a worldwide leader for education and applied research in this burgeoning industry. With advanced technology and equipment, the lab will allow for research in the brewing industry. With advanced technology and equipment, the lab will allow students and faculty to participate in innovative brewing research, the creation of new brews, collaborations with local craft brewers, and participation in public events such as the Chaplin School's Institute for Hospitality & Tourism Education & Research (IHTER) South Florida BrewFest. In the Media: Watch the NBC 6 report "FIU Launches Beer Making Program" and see how Dr. Barry Gump inspires students in the science of beer making. Read what the South Florida Business Journal wrote about the Brewing Science Lab in "Students, Teachers Get Entreprenuerial at FIU's Chaplin School". Check out other facilities at the Chaplin School.

Hospitality Student Leads Peers on a Guided Tour of Miami

Ralph de la Portilla recently led a group of 52 Hospitality Management students on a sightseeing tour of Miami. From Miami Beach to Coral Gables, students traveled by bus and experienced Miami as many of the region's tourists do with their instructor Nancy Del Risco, Ph.D., tourism lecturer at the Chaplin School. In Miami Beach, the group received a comprehensive understanding of the city's history, its Art Deco architecture, visited cultural landmarks such as the Versace Mansion and hotel properties. After a short trip over the bridge back to the mainland, the tour continued into Downtown Miami and Miami's financial district in Brickell. As the tour wove in and out of the narrow Downtown streets, students experienced a bit of past and present with sites like the Freedom Tower, Tequesta Indian history in the area, the American Airlines Arena, and the new Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts which all sit in close proximity. Students also went on a walking tour of Little Havana's Domino Park and stopped to have a classic guarapo (Cuban sugar cane drink), cafecito, and croquetas as the locals would do. They also visited Cuban art galleries and a tobacco factory. In Coral Gables, students got a glimpse of the landmark Biltmore Hotel. When asked about his experience leading his peers, student Ralph de la Portilla said: "In my 10 years of guiding visitors throughout South Florida, this particular tour was unique: the group was comprised of locals! I really didn't know what to expect. It turned out to be as pleasurable as any other group I've worked with over the past decade! The pleasure I'm afforded being a professional guide is that I get to see Miami each and every time [...]

Hospitality Students Awarded for Leadership at the 2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival

Recipients of the 2014 Lee Brian Schrager Excellence in Leadership Awards were recently presented with their certificates at an award ceremony at the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. The seven students, (left to right) Sylvia de Ovin-Berenguer, Rossy Ambe-Cohen, Paige Wuensch, Debra Kuhn, Angelie Rodriguez, Javier Nolla, and Malcolm Prude, pictured with Lee Brian Schrager (center) were recognized for their efforts during the 2014 Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival presented by FOOD & WINE. FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management annually recognizes the outstanding leadership that Mr. Schrager has exemplified as founder and director of the world-renowned Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival. Shrager's vision and leadership as one of the nation’s preeminent event producers and public relations experts, has provided Chaplin School students with the encouragement, motivation, and inspiration necessary for them to become future leaders in their fields. His vision and exceptional dedication to the wine and culinary world continues to provide a beacon to shine on our community, and to benefit the students of FIU’s Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Students received awards for their efforts in the following categories: Excellence in Special Event Management Javier F. Nolla was nominated for his exemplary management of the North Venue Lead Team and Recruiting, placing, and supporting Culinary Management students onsite. Angelie Rodriguez was nominated based upon her exceptional work assisting with planning and execution of seven events throughout the festival. Excellence in Culinary Management Rossy Ambe-Cohen was selected for her efforts as Lead Student Volunteer for The Wine Spectator Restaurant Management Lab Inaugural Dinner, Best of the Best, Sammy Hagar, and Best of the Munchies events, Debra Allan Kuhn performed as a Culinary [...]

On the Move: Hospitality Alumnae Promotions

The goal of any student while in college is to secure or advance a career in their chosen field after college. For two Chaplin School alumni, that has been exactly the case. Catalina Orozco B.S. '07 (pictured left) and Zhiran "Nature" Liu B.S. '13 (pictured right) both recently shared news of their respective promotions in the hospitality industry with the J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Career Development Program at the Chaplin School. Originally from Miami, Ms. Orozco, began her career in hospitality with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in Miami as an Employee Relations Manager. In 2010, she accepted a position as Human Resources Manager at the Four Seasons. Now, at the Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore, she has been named as the new Assistant Director of Human Resources. Ms. Liu's hard work at the InterContinental Miami Hotel was rewarded with a promotion to Loyalty Speciality/Rooms Controller. During her time at FIU, Ms. Liu was an international student from China majoring in Hospitality Management. She credits the Chaplin School's career development team for referring her to the IHG Academy which led to her position at the InterContinental Miami Hotel. The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation Career Development Program offers career assistance to both current students and alumni who have graduated from the hospitality program. To learn more about the services offered, visit