Berks Hospitality Management and Food Services partner to offer course

Course culminates in Cultural Winter Wonderland Feast on Dec. 4
Dinner at Tulllys
Credit: Photo Courtesy of Katie Quinn

WYOMISSING, Pa. — At Penn State Berks, hospitality management students are learning about the principles of food production and service management in a living laboratory, through a unique collaboration between the college’s hospitality management baccalaureate degree program and the Office of Housing and Food Services. Faculty from the degree program and Food Services staff have partnered to offer HM 330: Food Production and Service Management. The course culminated with a Cultural Winter Wonderland Feast on Dec. 4 in Tully’s, the Penn State Berks dining center.

HM Student serve their dinner they prepared.
Credit: Photo Courtesy of Katie Quinn

The course, now in its second year, is limited to 12 students — generally sophomores and juniors — to ensure that each participant has a comprehensive hands-on experience. The goal is to teach students to apply management principles to food production and service in the daily operation of a campus food-service facility. During the course, students rotated through management and staff roles where they worked in Tully’s at various stations, including the pizza, deli, grill, display and entrée stations. Students also worked on food preparation and catering orders, under supervision of Chefs Joe Ertel and Nathan Fox.

This year, the course culminated with a Cultural Winter Wonderland Feast. The menu featured international cuisine including Ethiopian cabbage and potato soup, Polish kielbasa soup, pernil and rice, ropa vieja, chicken schnitzel, jollof rice, pierogies and mangu.

Cultural Winter Wonderland Feast
Credit: Photo Courtesy of Katie Quinn

“The collaboration between Housing and Food Services and Hospitality Management has been rewarding,” stated Jennifer Wakemen, coordinator of the hospitality management degree program. “Students get to work one-on-one with the chefs, and learn about cooking methods, equipment, food ordering and service. Lectures are coordinated with the labs so that students are exposed to theory in the lecture and execution in the lab. Students develop a different point of view of food services when they experience it from the back of the house, rather than as a customer.”   

Along with hospitality management faculty members, Housing and Food Services staff teach several components of the course. Food safety and sanitation training is taught by Linda MacDuff, assistant director; food ordering and inventory is taught by Tom Henry, manager; and hands-on culinary development is taught by Chef Joe Ertel, managing chef. 

“Our Penn State Berks Housing and Food Services team is thrilled to team up with the Hospitality Management program and offer students this unique opportunity to receive hands-on in-depth training of both the front- and back-of-the-house operations, which are essential to be successful in management,” stated Jonathan Kukta, director of Housing and Food Services, Penn State Berks and Schuylkill campuses.

“One of [Penn State] President Eric Barron’s six imperatives is engaging students," said Kukta. "The collaboration between Housing and Food Services and the Hospitality Management program does exactly that: It takes the learning from the classroom and creates engaged scholarship opportunities through the course with the hands-on lab in Tully’s dining center.”