School of Hospitality Raises $1,500 for Katrina Relief

Published 09.23.2005

Baking & Culinary

Amy M. Schleicher of Baltimore was among the School of Hospitality students and faculty who volunteered time last weekend to prepare gumbo. In the background are Mary G. Trometter, professor of food and hospitality management%2Fculinary arts%3B and Hasan K. Whitehead, a hospitality management major from Williamsport.The School of Hospitality at Pennsylvania College of Technology raised $1,500 recently through a "Gumbo for a Cause" sale to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina.

In honor of the flooded area, Mary G. Trometter, assistant professor of food and hospitality management/culinary arts, led volunteer faculty and students in the School of Hospitality in making Louisiana-style chicken, sausage, shrimp and oyster gumbo, which was sold in one-quart containers along with rice and rolls.

The school sold 150 quarts, funds from which will be donated to the American Red Cross' response to Hurricane Katrina.

About 12 students and faculty lent their time over the weekend on Sept. 17 and 18 to make the gumbo, putting in two hours of chopping and dicing on Saturday, and more than 11 hours in cooking and portioning the gumbo and rice on Sunday. Baking and pastry arts students made the rolls.

On Trometter's mind when organizing the fundraiser were two renowned Louisiana restaurateurs who have visited the college to share their expertise with students and work with them to prepare a meal to benefit scholarship funds.

John Folse, who is known as "Louisiana's ambassador to the world" and owns several businesses in the New Orleans area, has visited the college as part of the School of Hospitality's Distinguished Visiting Chef series five times, most recently in April.

Leah Chase, the 82-year-old owner of New Orleans restaurant Dookie Chase's, has visited the college twice as part of the series.

"I thought about what would Miss Leah Chase be doing, and I thought she would be cooking, because that's the best that we (in the culinary business) can do, and that's all that I can do sometimes," Trometter said.

When the School of Hospitality found out she was safe through a newspaper article in the Birmingham (Ala.) Post-Herald, they learned that cooking is exactly what she was doing, as the paper described Chase cooking jambalaya and other delicacies for the two dozen family members she joined in the home of relatives in Birmingham.

Folse was also cooking, using his manufacturing facility to feed those in need on a larger scale.

"We're getting a sense of what we might miss about that area, because gumbo is a traditional dish that is very popular, so I thought it was appropriate," Trometter said. "Both Chef Folse and Miss Chase, when they were here as visiting chefs, had prepared their version of gumbo for our guests."

Gumbo traditionally contains crawfish, which is abundant in Louisiana, but could be affected for some time by the flooding.

"Of course, we're concerned more with the people at this point," Trometter said.

Corporations that helped contribute to the event were Scot's Lo-Cost and U.S. Foodservice.

The gumbo recipe was featured in the fourth season of "You're the Chef," the college's national public-television cooking series. To find the recipe, visit on the Web.