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May 10, 2021

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Westgate professionals nourish CCSD culinary students

Culinary and Hospitality Showcase

Yasmina Chavez

Culinary student Pierre Mitchel Haran cleans off a dessert plate during a Hospitality & Culinary Showcase at the Southwest Career and Technical Academy Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Culinary and hospitality professionals from Westgate Las Vegas were invited to have lunch, take a tour and do a Q&A with students.

Culinary and Hospitality Student Showcase

Culinary student Pierre Mitchel Haran cleans off a dessert plate during a Hospitality & Culinary Showcase at the Southwest Career and Technical Academy Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Culinary and hospitality professionals from Westgate Las Vegas were invited to have lunch, take a tour and do a Q&A with students. Launch slideshow »

The Southwest Career and Technical Academy culinary students served a three-course meal of Brussels sprouts and apple salad, chicken pesto sandwich and lemon meringue tart.

But instead of other students eating the food, they had a special guest: Culinary professionals from the Westgate.

The CCSD Student Showcase on Wednesday gave the high school seniors a chance to discuss the ins and outs of the profession with culinary arts experts from the resort. The partnership between the Westgate and School District is designed to help enhance students' knowledge of the industry to ensure that they are college and career-ready, officials said in a news release.

Gordon Prouty, the vice president of public relations and community affairs for Westgate, said the showcase was beneficial for students to network with working professionals and get feedback from experts. The showcase also included a question-and-answer session, where students were allowed to ask Westgate officials about the industry.

The professionals also toured the facilities — a 170-seat banquet room, six kitchens and walk-in freezers to mirror a professional set-up — at the preparatory school on West Shelbourne Avenue near South Rainbow Boulevard. It also has programs in fashion design, dental and nursing assistance and automotive technology.

Michael Hadobas, a culinary teacher at the academy, said the school has a student-run cafe as well as a similar banquet event every month. But nothing compares to having quests from a Las Vegas resort.

Royce Madriaga, an academy senior, has learned how to make various international dishes in the program — and therefore has a deeper understanding of different cultures, he said. 

He aspires for a career in the restaurant industry because that’s “what interests me is just making people happy and making people have an enjoyable experience,” he said.

And that’s what makes the showcase beneficial for both the resort and academy.

“There’s a lot of talent here that we should try to keep,” Prouty said.