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Monday, November 24, 2014

Collaboration Abounds as WCC’s Mardi Gras Celebrates 25 Years

  • Quarter Bistro Chef Ernest Prokos works with students on plating technique. See more behind-the-scenes shots of Mardi Gras preparations on WCC’s Flickr stream.
  • Students sample the dishes that will be served at Mardi Gras. See more behind-the-scenes shots of Mardi Gras preparations on WCC’s Flickr stream.
  • Ford Field Chef Joseph Nader demonstrates how to put the finishing touches on a plate for culinary arts students. See more behind-the-scenes shots of Mardi Gras preparations on WCC’s Flickr stream.

WCC celebrates 25 years of one of the best parties in town at its annual Mardi Gras celebration on Saturday, Feb. 6, an event sponsored by the WCC Foundation to raise money for scholarships.

This year’s Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street Beckons, will evoke the sights, sounds, and smells of New Orleans’ French Quarter, and features Bourbon Street jazz by the Bugs Beddow Band. But the biggest draw may be the local chefs who volunteer their time to ensure a savory menu and give WCC’s culinary arts and hospitality management students “a taste” of knowledge learned from years of cooking management.

The culinary students work directly with the chefs to prepare the dinner, learning how to cook for hundreds of people. “Working with the guest chefs and seeing the way each chef has their own creative ways of preparing and presenting food art really jump-starts the students’ desire to learn more,” said Terri Herrera, chair of WCC’s culinary arts and hospitality management department. “It is inspiring to watch.”

It will be especially inspiring this year because one of the guest chefs—Joseph Nader of Ford Field—is a graduate of WCC’s culinary program. Other visiting chefs will be Dave Rensi from Opus One, Ernest Prokos from Quarter Bistro, Brian Reyes from Kensington Court, and Dan Tesin from the Campus Inn. Pastry chefs will include Cate Akerman from the Gandy Dancer and Cheryl Hanewich from La Dolce Vita. WCC culinary arts faculty will also add their culinary touches to the event.

The culinary arts students and faculty are just some of the WCC students and staff members whose collaboration is necessary to make Mardi Gras a success. Advanced graphic design students create the posters and images that decorate the space. Photography students capture the magic of the night as well as portraits of all the guests. Student clubs get involved, too: the African American Student Association works the coat check, Phi Theta Kappa helps with the set up, and culinary arts alumni make drinks at the bar.

“Since Mardi Gras raises money to benefit WCC students, the event becomes students helping students,” said Rose Bailey, the Foundation’s corporate relations and special events coordinator. “The campus community finds a way to help with Mardi Gras, even fitting it around their already busy work schedule.”

Tickets are $175 to $250. All the money raised helps WCC students realize their dreams of a successful future.

To learn more about Mardi Gras or how to donate money to the scholarship fund, call the WCC Foundation at 734-973-3665.

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