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Twenty-eight Pennsylvania College of Technology students have been selected by Levy Restaurants to help serve an expected crowd of more than 160,000 at the 2017 running of the storied Kentucky Derby on May 6.
The Derby, an icon of Southern tradition, is the longest-running sporting event in the United States, first run at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1875 before a crowd of 10,000. The race has continued each year since, despite world wars and the Great Depression.
Penn College students, who will be accompanied by Chef Charles R. Niedermyer, instructor of baking and pastry arts/culinary arts at the college, have served Derby Week internships for more than 25 years. Churchill Downs Executive Chef David Danielson and representatives of Levy Restaurants, which manages food operations at the track, came to campus in February to interview students.
The students are stationed throughout the facility in the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby, transforming tons of raw ingredients to delectable finished dishes for guests in luxury areas of the facility. New this year, a group of Penn College students, mainly studying hospitality management, has been hired to lead guest services in a new premium venue on the track.
Ten Penn College students are making a return trip to the Derby. Among them is Brittany L. Mink, an applied management student from Allentown who will take her third turn at Churchill Downs.
“Every year, I never know what to expect; it’s always something new and exciting,” she said. “In the past years, I have worked in Jockey Club Suites, Main Kitchen, and last year I worked in Winner’s Circle Suites, feeding the horse owners. Last year was by far my favorite year. Working in Winner’s Circle Suites was such an amazing experience. I got the opportunity to work side-by-side with a chef preparing food and dessert platters for suites as well as beautiful platters for a buffet line. The kitchen was located right off the track, which gave us the opportunity to see all the racehorses before and after the races.”
Other students last year were stationed in The Mansion, where they not only served celebrity guests, but worked under the direction of celebrity Chef Rick Tramonto, who has received the highest culinary accolades in the U.S. and Europe and has appeared frequently on television, including as a judge on “Top Chef” and a contestant on “Top Chef Masters.” Impressed by the students’ work, he accepted an invitation to work with students on the Penn College campus during the college’s Visiting Chef Series earlier this month.
“This year, I am looking forward to working with the numerous chefs that come together to make this event happen,” Mink said. “I am eager to be challenged physically and mentally throughout the week; it is what keeps me going.”
The Penn College group departs May 1 for the Derby. The students and their majors are:
Applied management (bachelor’s degree)
Brittany L. Mink, of Allentown, and Kori A. Treaster, of Lewistown. Both received associate degrees in baking and pastry arts in 2016.
Baking and pastry arts (associate degree)
Merissa N. Aucker, of Middleburg; Maria E. Berrios, of Bethlehem; Alexis L. Kepley, of Reading; Danielle M. McGuire, of Quakertown; Natascha G. Santaella, of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; Cynthia R. Setzer, of Port Allegany; and Keegan D. Sonney, of Erie
Business administration: marketing concentration (bachelor’s degree)
Meagan L. Dosch, of Aspers
Culinary arts and systems (bachelor’s degree)
Magdalen C. Bennett, of Erie; Sarah A. Brunski, of Mount Holly Springs; Bridget M. Callahan, of Pottsville; Eliza B. Cook, of Towanda; Jessica T. Haynes, of Bethlehem; Cy C. Heller, of Milton; Paul J. Herceg, of Chalfont; Randall “Colby” Janowitz, of Westminster, Md.; Lyndsay E. Maynard, of Fleetwood; Alyssa J. Morales, of Tucson, Ariz.; Stephanie C. Myers, of Catawissa; Austin B. Ovens, of Elizabethtown; Andrew M. Scheitle, of Chambersburg; Amaris T. Smith, of Williamsport; and Dylan H. Therrien, of Reading
Culinary arts technology (associate degree)
Arielle E. White, of Chambersburg
Hospitality management (associate degree)
Heather L. Croft, of Sayre, and Noeiris Pliego, of Reading
To learn more about the academic programs offered in Penn College’s School of Business & Hospitality, call 570-327-4505.
For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.