Penn College students to help feed fans at Kentucky Derby

Published 04.22.2024

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As the famed Kentucky Derby celebrates its 150th running on May 4, Pennsylvania College of Technology students and employees will be in action, providing gourmet dining to VIP spectators.

Twenty-six Penn College students were selected for Derby Week internships following on-campus interviews by staff of Levy Restaurants, which operates dining services at Churchill Downs (the Kentucky Derby’s home).

“The student Derby internship experience cannot be duplicated at Penn College,” said Chef Charles R. Niedermyer, an instructor of baking and pastry arts/culinary arts who has been escorting Penn College students to the Kentucky Derby for 15 years. Overall, the college has been participating since 1993. “All of our students will be challenged and grow significantly as professionals at Churchill Downs. The excitement, surprise and satisfaction from a job well done keeps me going back each year!”

A few members of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s 2023 Kentucky Derby contingent pause for a photo in the Directors Room in the Turf Club, a VIP venue at Churchill Downs. Twenty-six Penn College students will return to Churchill Downs for 2024 Derby Week internships, the highlight of which is the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 4. From left: Chef Charles R. Niedermyer, instructor of baking and pastry arts/culinary arts; Chef Mike S. Dinan, executive chef of Penn College’s Le Jeune Chef Restaurant; and students Kylie R. Landon, of Canton, and Jared D. Schwenk, of New Ringgold.

Most of the students are in baking and culinary arts majors and will work in the “back of the house” – in kitchens – while four students majoring in business administration will serve the “front of the house,” interfacing with guests.

“The Kentucky Derby is one of the biggest events we have the opportunity to participate in on campus,” said Penn College baking & pastry arts student Autumn B. Stanley, of Lincoln University, who will return for her second Derby Week internship. “It provides us with connections and experiences that we can’t get anywhere else. I mean, who can say that they’ve been to the Kentucky Derby?”

Baking and culinary students will help to prepare food for Churchill Downs’ premium venues and staff the Main Kitchen, where literal tons of ingredients will pass through their hands as the Derby draws more than 150,000 guests each year. (That’s more than double the number who attend the Super Bowl.) They’ll also cook for guests throughout the week of events that lead up to the grand finale race.

And Churchill Downs is making the iconic occasion even grander for 2024 as the venue celebrates the 150th “Run for the Roses.” The longest continually held sporting event in the United States – and one of the most prestigious horse races in the world – the Kentucky Derby has run since 1875, the year after Col. Merriwether Lewis Clark Jr. formed the Louisville Jockey Club and acquired land for a track from his uncles John and Henry Churchill.

To celebrate, the Downs will debut a reimagined “paddock.” Among the new venues are the Woodford Reserve Paddock Club, which offers access to the paddock and views directly into the stalls; Sport’s Illustrated’s “Club SI,” which provides a luxurious dining experience and a celebrity “ambassador”; and the Spires Terrace & Suites, which touts the opportunity to “see and be seen” and an all-inclusive luxury food and beverage menu.

It provides us with connections and experiences that we can’t get anywhere else. I mean, who can say that they’ve been to the Kentucky Derby?

Autumn B. Stanley

Penn College baking & pastry arts student

Students will be accompanied by Niedermyer; Chef Mike S. Dinan, executive chef for Le Jeune Chef Restaurant, a live-learning lab for the college’s baking and culinary students; and Brian D. Walton, assistant dean of business and hospitality.

Students completing Derby Week internships, listed by their major:

Baking & pastry arts:
Lily J. Clickner, of Petersburg; Emma E. Del Campo, of West Chester; Madisen H. Donlin, of Branchdale; Felicia D. Donnie, of Shippensburg; Alexis N. Durn, of Spring Mills; Kendal L. Johnson, of Scranton; Sarah M. Kline, of Montoursville; Emily E. Myers, of Catawissa; Amanda E. Pennington, of Wernersville; Jeanita J. Pierre, of McConnellsburg; Samielya R. Robertson, of York; Abigail G. Sollenberger, of Newville; Autumn B. Stanley, of Lincoln University; Luke C. Whipple, of Shamokin Dam; and Kasandria B. Williams, of Cressona.

Durn, Johnson, Kline, Pennington, Pierre and Sollenberger are also pursuing bachelor’s degrees in applied management. Whipple is double-majoring in baking & pastry arts and culinary arts technology.

Business administration:
Kylee P. Albert, of Boyertown; Lauren A. Hergert, of Brookville; Anna R. Lundin, of Kersey; and Jajuan J. Ramirez, of Kennett Square.

Culinary arts technology:
Nathan A. Fleagle, of State College; Maggy R. Langendoerfer, of Waymart; Hannah K. Lingle, of Lock Haven; Nicholas P. Matz, of Schuylkill Haven; Jared D. Schwenk, of New Ringgold; Maddison H. Smith, of York; and Kayla M. Wilson, of Williamsport.

Smith and Wilson are also pursuing bachelor’s degrees in applied management.

To learn more about Penn College’s business and hospitality majors, call 570-327-4505. 

For information about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.