The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SE classes teach hotel, restaurant management

By Karen Gavis/managing editor

Veteran Anthony Wilhite is a student in SE’s restaurant and hospitality program.
David Reid/The Collegian

TCC students looking for a career in the food industry are not limited to culinary arts training.

SE Campus also offers a hotel and restaurant administration program that prepares students for a burgeoning industry with many local opportunities.

SE hospitality management instructor James Traister said it is a healthy sector, and Texas is expected to lead the industry in restaurant sales over the decade.

“Tourism is a major industry in Arlington,” said Mary German, vice president of services and marketing for Experience Arlington.

Several TCC students have or currently volunteer in Experience Arlington’s visitor center, and some students have gone through customized internship programs to complete practicum hours, German said. Experience Arlington’s mission is to build and market Arlington as a premier destination.

“Typically, student intern and shadowing needs can be met in Arlington. If not, we have an area network and resources,” she said.

The internship program is designed to give learning opportunities and hands-on experience in Experience Arlington departments as well as Arlington hotels, the convention center and area attractions, German said.

Students can relate what they have learned in the classroom to practical experience under the direction of industry professionals.

German said the hospitality industry is vast, and available positions are based on industry need and the market.

Traister prepares his students for such opportunities and stresses social media techniques. He also teaches a finance class that focuses on the food and beverage business. Both hotel and restaurant administration students as well as culinary students attend the class, he said.

“Most of them come in scared because of some baggage they have in math from the past,” he said. “They come out of there with more knowledge than most of their managers/supervisors/owners currently have and are able to make a difference in their work as a result.”

Matthew Barrington, one of Traister’s former students, now works at the Gaylord Texan and has been developing some financial standards there, Traister said.

“The Gaylord, a multibillion dollar company, is benefiting from what a student learned in the classroom,” Traister said. “That is the type of difference and knowledge our students bring to the industry.”

Barrington said only Uncle Sam employs more people than the hospitality industry, and the recent economic downturn has not affected North Texas as much as other U.S. regions.

“I believe that DFW is a hot spot for anyone interested in the culinary arts and hospitality in general,” he said. “There are great job opportunities within this industry opening up every day.”

Barrington said he joined the hospitality administration program to learn more about operating the back of the restaurant and has learned a lot about what goes on behind the scenes.

“I really wanted to understand how a business purchases inventory, determines the prices for menu items, collects revenues, promotes the business and manages its human resources,” he said.

Barrington has created more than 100 original drink recipes and currently tends bar in the Old Hickory Steakhouse at the Gaylord.

“One of my latest ideas includes honey and fresh-squeezed lemon juice in a rocks glass with Southern Comfort and Forty Creek Whisky,” he said. “I call this a Honey Creek.”

Another of Barrington’s recent creations is a Pama gin fizz he made by mixing an egg white, fresh lemon and lime juices, Pama liqueur and Bombay gin.

“You need to shake this one really hard in order to get a good froth from the egg white,” he said.

Barrington’s favorite drink for the fall and winter is a Vanilla Brandy Alexander made with vanilla bean-infused cognac, Godiva chocolate liqueur, butterscotch liqueur and heavy cream.

“It reminds me of Christmas,” he said.

His regular guests have grown accustomed to his creativity and usually ask what his latest drink is, Barrington said. He even names drinks after his customers.

“One big trend in the bar/restaurant industry is the use of fresh and/or local ingredients in food and beverages,” he said. “Bartenders are pushing the boundaries of creativity by infusing spirits with common food ingredients like figs, vanilla beans, cherries and pretty much any fruit you can find.”

Each day in the industry brings new challenges and rewards, Barrington said.

Part of Traister’s success as a teacher is that he brings years of real working experience to the classroom and cares deeply about the career progress of his students, Barrington said.

“His commitment to the success of his students is commendable,” he said. “It shows that he enjoys teaching very much.”

Anthony Wilhite, a current student, agrees.

Wilhite had just left the military and was adjusting to civilian life when he joined the hospitality program. He is currently completing an internship for a convention and tradeshow management company.

Wilhite said if students follow the degree plan that Traister has in place, they will succeed, and students should take advantage of the experience of all their professors.

“It will take you a long way,” he said.

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