Hospitality Catering Team Selected for Governor’s VIP Reception

After just a taste of one of their signature dishes, it becomes obvious why Executive Chef Jamie Callison and his team of seven students from Hospitality Catering Services were chosen to prepare food at the Washington State Governor’s Grand Ball VIP Reception in Olympia.

Grand ball events support culinary scholarships and other educational benefits for aspiring chefs, as well as continuing education. According to Tony Parker, president of the Washington State Chef’s Association (WSCA), and the person in charge of catering the Grand Ball, the VIP reception is the most important piece of the night as it sets the tone for the evening and engages the governor’s 100 special guests.

Chef Callison tapped for excellence

An appetizer made of potato salad with a tarragon aioli, duck confit, and crispy duck skin.

While Callison has worked with other professional chefs at the VIP event in previous years, this year, the WSCA asked him to lead it.

“The attention to detail and professionalism Chef Callison always shows made it a simple choice to have him take care of the VIP reception for our chapter,” said Parker.

A highly accomplished culinary expert and cookbook author, Callison has participated in the Culinary Olympics in Germany in 1988, with his team earning two silver medals and one bronze. In 2002 he coached the student hot food cooking team in a national competition resulting in a silver medal. He became a certified executive chef in 1995 and an inducted member of the American Academy of Chefs in 2003. He joined the WSU School of Hospitality Business Management in 2006 and has completed executive chef recertification.

Life lessons from the kitchen

With the loan of a portable kitchen from Bates Technical College, Callison and the students prepared the menu, treating guests to a bounty of Pacific Northwest and Cougar products including cheese, organic honey, Wagyu beef, and much more from the WSU orchard, cattle ranch, creamery, and organic farm. Watch the video.

“This was a great opportunity for our students to be part of a high caliber event,” said Callison. “The knowledge they gained from this experience will give them an advantage over their peers and prepare them for rewarding careers in hospitality business management, one of the world’s largest industries.”

From left: Brittley Barrett, Alec Sobotka, Madi Moffatt, Isaiah Mueller, Paige Goulet, Chef Jamie Callison, Taite Stewart, Megan Wells.

“The biggest thing I learned from this experience was that diversity is a vital part of society, as well as the culinary industry,” says sophomore Megan Wells, a hospitality major from Medical Lake who someday wants to open a bakery. “I had the pleasure of meeting so many new people, experiencing unique foods, and learning different techniques. If I had the chance to do it again, I would in a heartbeat.”

“I was hired by Hospitality Catering Services when I was considering hospitality as a minor. Working for the program gave me a greater interest in the subject, and now I am so thankful to be so involved,” said junior Madeleine Moffatt, a public relations major from Olympia. “The VIP event was definitely a unique experience that will hopefully help me get a foot in the door with potential employers.”

Moffatt plans to work for a company’s public relations or event planning services after graduation. Currently, she is training to be Hospitality Catering Service’s event coordinator for 2018 to gain critical hands-on experience in preparation for her career.

Other Hospitality Catering students who worked the VIP reception included Paige Goulet, Isaiah Mueller, Brittley Barrett, Alec Sobotica, and Lillian Stewart.

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