By: Jonathan Baca, Staff Reporter | Photo By: Scott M. Roberts, Photojournalist
The Hyatt Regency Hotel, in conjunction with CNM’s Culinary Arts and Art programs, will be hosting Dia de los Muertos, a charity event to benefit the CNM Culinary Arts Scholarship Endowment, said Culinary Arts Program Coordinator, Chef Scott Clapp.
The event will take place on Nov. 1 at the Downtown Hyatt, and will include hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, music and dancing, tequila tasting, sidewalk chalk art and free face painting, said Hyatt’s Director of Sales and Marketing, Geoff Armerding.
“We’re really excited. It’s going to be a really great time, and it’s great for CNM,” said Clapp.
This is the event’s fifth year, and each year the Hyatt selects a different charity to benefit, choosing CNM for 2012, said Clapp. He said that Hyatt is one of CNM’s industry partners, and has been very supportive of the culinary program.
Many members of the Hyatt kitchen staff are current or former students, he said. Hyatt felt the donation could help train future employees, Clapp said.
Armerding said that the Hyatt has benefitted greatly from CNM graduates.
“We have a great relationship with CNM. We have hired many students from the culinary program who have worked out and have been very successful within the Hyatt family,” said Armerding.
The event will include a silent auction where attendees can bid on traditional Mexican sugar skulls created by students from the Baking class, said Clapp. The proceeds from the sale will also be donated, he said.
Students from the Global Cuisine class will be competing in an hors d’oeuvres contest at the event, said Culinary instructor Chef Mark Patel.
His students will be broken into five teams, and on the night of the event, each team will receive a mystery basket provided by the Hyatt kitchen staff, he said.
Each basket will contain the ingredients that the team has to work with. The teams will be given three hours to turn their ingredients into two different hors d’oeuvres, said Patel. Each team will need to prepare between 75 and 150 individual pieces, which will be served to the guests, he said.
“The cool thing about the event is that the guests are the ones who will decide the winner by filling out comment cards on their most favorite hors d’oeuvres or appetizers,” said Patel.
The winning team will receive a free dinner at Forque, the Hyatt’s fine dining restaurant, he said.
The head chef at the Hyatt has been very secretive about what ingredients will appear in the baskets, but that they will most likely be inspired by Dia de los Muertos, said Patel.
“The class is very excited about competing, and they are a little nervous too, because of the mystery basket,” said Patel. “Usually, culinary students are used to knowing what they are going to be cooking a week in advance. So the exciting part for them is showing up and the chef saying, ‘These are your ingredients; you’ve got three hours to make two appetizers, now go to town.’”
Patel said events like this one are great for students, because they prepare them for working in the industry under pressure. He said it is also a great way for them to network, meet real chefs and open up job opportunities as they prepare to graduate.
Art is another important part of the evening, and CNM students will have their artwork displayed at the reception, said Armerding. Students from the Art Department will also be working to complete a large chalk sidewalk mural in front of the Hyatt, he said.
“It should take them three to four days to complete, but when it’s finished it will be right out front to greet the guests. We are very excited, it’s going to be special,” said Armerding.
He said that students will also be offering free face painting.
The event is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 1, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency Hotel at 330 Tijeras Ave. NW. Tickets are $30, and include hors d’oeuvres, entertainment and a tequila tasting. Parking is free. To purchase tickets visit diadeloscnm.eventbrite.com.