A Second Helping of Tri-C’s Culinary Fest

The Tri-C Cleveland Eats Culinary Festival is more than the typical food sampling event. It’s a creative way for Cuyahoga Community College to spread the word about their thriving culinary program. In a city as passionate about food as sports (well, almost), there is an increasing demand for more trained culinary and hospitality staff.
Michael Huff, Dean of Hospitality Management at Tri-C, is happy that the outlook for Cleveland’s restaurant and hospitality industry continues to flourish. “Our enrollment pace for the 2018-2019 academic year is up from the previous year,” he said.
Students who excel can find jobs easily, and not just as chefs in restaurants. Catering and special events, and convention and conference bookings are important to both the hotel community and the city’s tourism arm, Destination Cleveland. “The 2017 festival helped our program to develop new integrations with food service companies, a fast-growth restaurant group and several independent chef-entrepreneurs,” Michael said.
So it really is good news for everyone that the festival will return on September 15, downtown on Mall B. A culinary advisory council of local chefs, along with Tri-C leadership and staff at the Hospitality Management Center, are planning a day of good eats fit for any foodie at really reasonable prices. Once again, students will have an active role in pulling it all together.
This year’s event will focus on chef driven food and beverages with plenty of $5 taste samples to be enjoyed while listening to headlining band Fastball and five regional acts. A robust demonstration schedule featuring Cleveland’s finest chefs will run all day starting with Brandon Chrostowski of Edwins and ending with Chef Eric Wells of Skye LaRae’s, with plenty of renown names taking the stage in between. (See the full schedule here)
The night before the fest, on Friday, September 14, a scholarship gala, Small Bites Big Dreams, presented by Nestlé, will take place at the downtown Tri-C Hospitality Management Center at 6 p.m.  Attendees can get a taste of rising culinary talent as they pair up with established chefs for a special party focused on fundraising.
Associate Dean Karen Monath values the opportunity to get the students real experience under pressure. “It’s one thing to lecture on the sense of urgency, customer service, professionalism, and passion.  It is something else to experience those things on a grand scale.” Karen knows a bit about stress—she led the charge on the creation of the “world’s largest pierogi” at last year’s festival that dethroned Pittsburgh of the official Guinness honor.
Working side by side with Cleveland’s most successful chefs, students will demonstrate their newly acquired skills in the nonstop demanding environment of a festival. “All the students who worked the event were thrilled with the excitement of being a part of something so big and so special.  A few of them had job offers that day,” Karen added.
Tickets are available for Small Bites, Big Dreams and the day-long festival are on sale now. HINT: You can win tickets through Edible Cleveland here!
–Lisa Sands