Local College Class Peers Behind Casino Curtain In Visit
VALLEY FORGE PA — Students in a Montgomery County Community College class titled “Introduction to the Hospitality Industry” recently were treated to a special tour last month: an eye-opening, first-hand look at what could be their career future.
College hospitality management instructor Jim Lynch connected with an old friend, Nick Waller, to permit a behind-the-scenes visit at the Valley Forge Casino Resort … just a short drive from the Blue Bell campus. Waller is the casino’s director of conventions and catering.
“He shared his story with the students,” Lynch said of Waller. “He was born and went to school in England. He had his education there and was a captain at the Savoy Hotel in London. He told students about the special space they had there for the royal family, and of his experience coming to the states.”
“He told them of his local experiences in Delaware, Philadelphia and his overall progression in the industry.” From the renowned Mansion on Turtle Creek to the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Waller had much to share with the intro students.
Waller escorted the students on a full tour of the facilities, in what Lynch called a “mixed bag of treats.” The group had “had an incredible experience,” Lynch said of the visit. “Students starting in hospitality tend to think there is just lodging or food and beverage. I think this really showed them that there is so much more.”
“We toured the full facility,” he said. “We got to see where special events take place, food and beverage was included in the restaurant tours and, though the rooms were all booked, they got to see the hotel flavor, too. I hope they took away, and I think they did, that there are broad opportunities in the hospitality industry,” Lynch added. “There is so much to offer.”
The tour didn’t stop there. The group ended their day with a surprise: a meeting with celebrity chef Tony Clark.
Clark presented a private cooking demonstration and had the students assist him in making lunch. It included red snapper, saffron risotto and minted asparagus. “He was so good with the students,” Lynch said of Clark. “I had never met him, but he was so great to walk through it all with them. He kept the tone very pedestrian, so the students really understood what they were being shown.”
Clark recently announced he will head up the casino’s restaurants as executive chef for both Pacific Prime, its fine dining chop house, and Viviano, its Italian venue. It was an honor for the MCCC students to be able to cook with such talent, according to Lynch.
Photo from Montgomery County Community College