Hoosiers prove they have what it takes with SkillsUSA

In just over a month, hundreds of students across Indiana will be showcasing the skills of their chosen trade in the SkillsUSA state competition happening at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Apr. 14-15. Getting to the state level is no easy feat, and dozens of local students recently competed for a chance to snag a spot at state during two different regional competitions at Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne.

“SkillsUSA is a trifecta of educators, business and industry leaders, and students working together to close a skills gap we’re seeing nationwide,” says Kelley Baker, the Indiana State Director for SkillsUSA. “It gives students the chance to showcase their learned skills and allows them to network with professionals in their chosen trade.”

Through this national competition, middle school, high school, and postsecondary students can win scholarships and trips to competing locations to further develop their craft. SkillsUSA promotes skilled trade education throughout the US and works with WorldSkills International to shine a light on these individuals.

Students compete in the Automotive Service SkillsUSA competition at Ivy Tech Fort Wayne

Thirty-six high schoolers competed to see who has the skills needed to become an outstanding technician during Regionals for the Automotive Service category.

“The SkillsUSA program is a great opportunity for local high school students to show off their skill sets within the automotive trade,” says Nick Goodnight, Ph.D., assistant department chair of Automotive and Diesel Technology. “The automotive profession is a great industry to get in and creates a great career.”

The top five students of each regional competition move on to the next round. The winners were chosen based on how well they performed in the various categories. Students competed in skills like electrical soldering and meter usage, HVAC identification, automotive transmission and engine component identification and application, and braking and suspension systems diagnosis.

Automotive is just one of 88 trade areas that compete. Ivy Tech Fort Wayne also played host to the Baking and Pastry Arts competition. Snider High School and Anthis Career Academy Senior Celeste Julian placed second in the competition.

The culinary competition requires students to make clear soup, fabricate a chicken, cook chicken breasts, make sauces, and cook vegetables. Thirteen culinary students were competing, but only the top six move on to the state finals.

With any SkillsUSA competition, students have the chance to move from regionals to state to nationals and then possibly to worlds. The national competition for every program is happening June 19 through the 23 in Atlanta, GA.

Anyone interested in future competitions can visit the SkillsUSA website to see the exciting opportunities available. Again, this is open to middle schoolers, high schoolers, and postsecondary students.

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne culinary students gifted free uniforms from college alumna

From left: Island Scrubs owner Lynn Haffner and Dean of the School of Business, Logistics and Supply Chain and the School of Public Affairs and Social Services Eric Allmon

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne recently received a donation of chef uniforms estimated to be worth $1500. Dozens of chef jackets, pants, aprons, and hats were included in the donation from Lynn Haffner, owner of Island Scrubs and Ivy Tech alumna.

“We are extremely grateful for the gifts from Island Scrubs,” says Aaron Parkinson, Program Chair of Hospitality Administration. “Because of their generosity, we have been able to provide several uniforms to students who have been unable to purchase their own.”

Haffner attended Ivy Tech Fort Wayne in the 90’s as part of the former Medical Assistant program. She took over Island Scrubs five years ago selling medical and culinary scrubs but decided last year to keep the store’s focus at its new location on medical. While she tried to figure out what to do with the extra culinary uniforms, she thought of her alma mater.

“Ivy Tech gave me a push to find out who I am and what I could do and really changed the trajectory of my life,” Haffner says. “30 years later, I realized there was an opportunity to pay it forward and help current students who may need extra assistance.”

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne hosts lunch buffet series

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne’s Hospitality Administration students are hosting a series of lunch buffets open to the community at Coliseum Campus (3800 N. Anthony Blvd.) most Thursdays in February. It’s an opportunity to have students get a real-world restaurant experience.

The dates and their respective lunches are as follows:

  • Feb. 2 – Lunch buffet featuring pork rillette, Provençal chicken, pike quenelles, and desserts
  • Feb. 9 – Three-course tasting menu
  • Feb. 23À la carte menu

Lunches will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $15 per person. Guests must reserve their spot beforehand. Lunches are limited to 35 people, so those interested will need to RSVP as soon as possible by going to link.ivytech.edu/lunchbuffet.

Ivy Tech Fort Wayne announces student winners of annual European Competition for study abroad experience

Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne hosted its annual European Competition on Friday. Ten Hospitality Administration students in culinary arts or baking and pastry arts spent the day competing for a chance to win a scholarship that would fund a trip to study culinary arts in Italy this spring.

2023 European Competition winners from left: Grant Wolfe, Natalie Wright, Ashlyn Young, Isabelle Sims, Maggie Becraft, Esther Powers, and Kattia Tarnow.

Seven students won the opportunity to travel to Italy: Grant Wolfe, Natalie Wright, Ashlyn Young, Isabelle Sims, Maggie Becraft, Esther Powers, and Kattia Tarnow.

“We’re so excited to be able to reward our Hospitality Administration students with this incredible opportunity,” says Amanda Parkinson, Hospitality Administration program chair. “It’s so hard to narrow down the winners because everyone has worked so hard the past two years. They all did amazing, and we’re really proud.”

Culinary students prepared a meal with an appetizer; an entrée with a protein, vegetable, and starch; and a dessert. Baking students prepared items including plated chocolate and fruit desserts, yeast bread and rolls, and a decorated cake.

Kitchen judges watched and rated students as they worked, paying attention to technique and ability. Floor judges blind tasted the completed meals. Judges based their scores on American Culinary Federation (ACF) criteria, and to be considered for the European trip, students must place at bronze standard or higher.

Based on students’ experiences in Italy, they will create the menu for this year’s A Reason to Taste, the College’s largest annual fundraiser. Money raised at A Reason to Taste funds scholarships for the winning students’ European trips.

“I’ve never done anything like this before and appreciate getting the chance to compete,” says Maggie Becraft. “Going to Italy was always something that I dreamed about, but I never knew I’d get to experience it while also learning new things about a subject I love. I think the fact that Ivy Tech offers opportunities like this for us is amazing.”

Zinnia’s Bakehouse: Summer food series

This is the second post in Green Light’s Summer Food Series, featuring area eateries with an Ivy Tech Northeast connection. Last week, we featured Donna Kessler at Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits.

Who: Krystal Hernandez, co-owner at Zinnia’s Bakehouse (1320 E. State Blvd.) and former hospitality administration student

Hernandez with baklava from Zinnia's Bakeshop

Hernandez with baklava from Zinnia’s Bakehouse

How: When Hernandez graduated from Elmhurst High School (1929 to 2010, RIP Trojans) in 2007, she had scholarships lined up from big culinary schools including Johnson & Wales University and Le Cordon Bleu, she says. However, when her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she knew she wanted to stay close to home–so she enrolled at Ivy Tech Northeast.

Through dual-credit classes and classes at Anthis Career Center, she already had College credit, making the choice an easy one.

“I wouldn’t change it,” she says. “The experience that I learned from the instructors I had, it’s incomparable.”

Hernandez got an internship at the former Yum-Mee’s Bakery, which turned into a job. Later, when Yum-Mee’s owners left, they sold the bakery to Hernandez.

“I was thinking, let’s just see where this goes,” she says. “I never would have expected this out of that.”

Click on the image to zoom and for full caption info.

What: Zinnia’s offers cupcakes and cookies, but its most popular items are the apple empanadas, chorizo empanadas, (an empanada is a Mexican-style turnover with a flaky pastry crust and sweet or savory fillings) and the ranchero quiche, which is vegetarian. The bakeshop offers beignets on Saturdays, which are also popular. (Think puffy, cube-shaped doughnuts doused in powdered sugar. So much yes.) Zinnia’s also has commercial orders at Brava’s Burgers and Who Cut the Cheese?

How long: Zinnia’s will celebrate its two-year anniversary in August, but Hernandez made her first wedding cake when she was 14.

Why “Zinnia’s”: People sometimes ask, “Who’s Zinnia? Is she here?” The name is simply a colorful daisy Hernandez likes.

The summer food series will be off next Friday for Independence Day. Stop back July 10 for the next installment. Happy eating!

A Reason to Taste brings in $70k–and looks really pretty

If you passed the Student Life Center gym at all late last week, you may have noticed some bustle going on–gray tableclothed tables with elaborate centerpieces, hallway furniture repurposed as lounges beneath large Edison light bulbs encased in wire globes.

It was all for A Reason to Taste, Ivy Tech Northeast’s biggest fundraiser for the year. Through ticket sales, fund-a-need donations, and silent auction items, we raised nearly $70,000 for student scholarships. Let’s pass out some cyber high-fives, shall we?

I could tell you what a great event it was, but I’d rather show you. Here are some of my favorite moments. You can find even more on the College’s Flickr page. (Yes, we have a Flickr page.)

First, let’s start with the gym. Not exactly a place for basketball anymore, wouldn’t you say?
rtt3With an open bar, no less. We’re still grateful to Ivy Tech Northeast alumna Donna Kessler (not pictured) for being so great and stocking the bar. Go get some dinner at Calhoun Street Soup, Salad, and Spirits (1915 S. Calhoun St., Fort Wayne) and tell her thanks, would you?
rtt4The A Reason to Taste dinner is largely created and made by hospitality administration students. Say hi!
rtt6After guests registered, they received a glass of champagne from student servers. Cheers!
rtt5That’s assistant instructor Cheryl Hitzemann. It was all-hands-on-deck at A Reason to Taste. Hospitality Administration faculty and students prepared a five-course meal for 240 guests.
rtt2Cole Huffman is a hospitality administration student who got to travel to France to study culinary arts this may. That’s the basis for the A Reason to Taste menu. Check out the behind-the-scenes story and hear more from Cole.
rtt7No party is complete without a photobooth and playful props. That’s Tommy Shoegler and Melissa Long (at right) in the top photo, from 21Alive. They were the event’s emcees. The final photo is some coworkers and moi (top left). We are a snazzy crew.collageI have to leave you with my favorite image of the night. There was a lot of fun and laughter at the event, and I don’t think there’s an image to sum it up better than this one.


Have you checked out a Kelty’s Kafe lunch yet?


That’s me!

Greetings Ivy Tech staff and students, Fort Wayne community, and anyone else who got lucky enough to stumble upon Green Light. My name is Jackson Bates, and I am an intern in the marketing office at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast. I am currently a senior in the communication department across the street at IPFW and, in a much-needed change of pace from literature reviews and term papers, I will be contributing my two cents on some events happening at Ivy Tech this semester. (Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the post to see the audio slideshow I put together featuring this week’s Kelty’s student chef, Theresa Thurston.)

I have come a long way since plain cheeseburgers and ham sandwiches, and now that I am a little older and have developed somewhat of an experienced palate, I am ready to join the ranks of Guy Fieri and Bobby Flay. OK, maybe I don’t have a solid background in critically analyzing food, and so what if I still like my cheeseburgers plain—I have to start somewhere. And what better place than Ivy Tech Northeast’s Kelty’s Kafé, a student-run restaurant in Anthony Commons on North Campus. This semester’s Kelty’s Kafé is bringing a little bit of everything to the table (pun intended). Students in hospitality administration will be dishing out (I can do this all day) all types of delicious meals from Italian, Greek, and pub food to Caribbean, southern, and good old-fashioned barbecue.

Student chefs work in the kitchen for Wednesday's BBQ Kelty's Kafe.

Student chefs work in the kitchen for Wednesday’s BBQ Kelty’s Kafé.

Being new to the culture of Ivy Tech, I was pleasantly surprised to find out about Kelty’s Kafé’s honorable beginnings: Students in the bakery merchandising class take over the café for the semester. Previously, students selected a different name for the deli each semester. It wasn’t until 2012 when Robert Kelty, a long-time fixture in hospitality administration and the College, passed away that “Kelty’s Kafé” made its permanent debut.

The program serves its students in the same way my internship serves me: It provides real-world experience that can’t be found in the classroom. Kelty’s Kafé is treated like any other restaurant.

“I want them to get a sense of what it is to completely run a business from creating the theme, developing the menus, coming up with recipes, and understanding the financial aspect of the business,” said Meshele Wyneken, hospitality administration instructor and Kelty’s Kafé supervisor. “How much did this cost? How much profit did it make? Because that is where most people fail when they open up a restaurant.”

I ordered an entrée special for $6.50, which included a pulled pork slider, ribs, and baked beans. Brittney Todd, a student chef working the counter, persuaded me to get the special, and I am glad I did. Both the rib and slider meat were cooked perfectly. In fact, I was a bit confused as to why the student chef even offered barbecue sauce because the meat was so tender, it almost fell off the bone. I got the sauce on the side but didn’t even use it—the ribs and slider were so good, they didn’t need the additional flavor to overpower the taste of the meat. Both the sliders and ribs melted in my mouth and were complimented by the hefty portion of baked beans.

My food from Kelty's Kafe

My food from Kelty’s Kafé

It was a shame I didn’t get to try everything on the menu: After being in the kitchen and watching everything come together, my mouth was still watering. After watching David Peverell, a student chef, batter the catfish and send it into the fryer, I wish I had ordered it. The fish sizzled and crackled, a golden brown heaven. Everywhere I looked, chefs were battering, cutting, or frying someone’s lunch. The cornbread mingled with the ribs and smelled like a Thanksgiving dinner, countless aromas of meats and breads filling the air.

Catfish for dessert, anyone?

Click below to listen to student chef Theresa Thurston discuss Kelty’s Kafé. Below the audio slideshow, find the Kelty’s schedule for the remainder of the semester.

Want to check out Kelty’s this semester? Here’s the schedule of menus:

Oct. 1:                                    A Day at the Fair
Oct. 8:                                    Pub Food
Oct. 15:                                  Italian
Oct. 22:                                  Southern Comfort
Oct. 29:                                  Halloween Week
Nov. 5:                                   Greek Feast
Nov. 12:                                 Surprise
Nov. 19:                                 Giving Thanks
Dec. 3:                                   British Isles

Wednesday’s student chef, Theresa Thurston, discusses why she choose a barbecue-themed menu and how her class helped put on the café. (Jackson’s audio)

Ivy Tech Northeast Special Cuisines class to host Mardi Gras buffet March 6

The Special Cuisines class at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast invites the community to join its students, faculty, and staff for a Mardi Gras buffet March 6.

The buffet will feature appetizers, soup, salads, sides, entrees, and desserts, including:

  • Oysters on the half shell
  • Chicken gumbo
  • Jambalaya
  • Blackened catfish
  • Cinnamon roasted sweet potatoes
  • Bourbon chocolate pecan pie
  • And more

Reservations, which are required, are taken for times between 5 and 6:30 p.m. To make reservations, call the Special Cuisines line at 260-480-2002. Dinners are served in the Hospitality Room on Coliseum Campus (3800 N. Anthony Blvd.) and run $20, cash or check only. Wine is available for an additional cost.

Special Cuisines dinner to feature Scandinavian buffet

The Special Cuisines class at Ivy Tech Community College Northeast invites the community to join its students, faculty, and staff for a Scandinavian buffet Feb. 27.

The buffet will feature appetizers, veggies, salad, soup, entrees and desserts. A sampling of the menu is as follows:

  • A selection of smørrebrød, traditional open-faced sandwiches and salads
  • Lihapullat, Finnish-style meatballs seasoned with allspice and sour cream and served with a brown beef gravy
  • Paistetut Sienet, portabella and button mushrooms sautéed with onions and tossed in a sour cream sauce
  • Sabayon Lingonberry Mousse, a creamy dessert with tart red lingonberries

Reservations, which are required, are taken for times between 5 and 6:30 p.m. To make reservations, call the Special Cuisines line at 260-480-2002. Dinners are served in the Hospitality Room on Coliseum Campus (3800 N. Anthony Blvd.) and run $20, cash or check only. Wine is available for an additional cost.

Ivy Tech Northeast expands hospitality space for growing program with $200,000 grant

A recent $200,000 grant has been awarded to Ivy Tech Community College Northeast through the Ivy Tech Foundation from the English, Bonter, Mitchell Foundation and Mike Eikenberry, former regional president of PNC Bank and foundation chair. The grant allows the college toEikenberry expand its Hospitality Room, which is used primarily by Hospitality Administration students.

Ivy Tech Northeast’s Hospitality Administration program is the second largest such program in the Ivy Tech Community College system, and it is commonly seen as one of Indiana’s elite hospitality programs. This expansion will allow the program to grow, whereas with current space constraints, it is stymied. During the 2011 academic year, the program served 722 majors and provided more than 100 courses, and this pledge will allow for the expected growth of the program.

“This is the perfect space for Hospitality Administration students to sharpen their customer service skills and show off their culinary talents,” says Jeff Bunting, program chair of the Hospitality Administration department. “This expansion, which adds 25 to 30 more seats, gives our program additional community exposure and will provide better training opportunities to a larger number of students.”

The Hospitality Room is used for the program’s popular special cuisine dinners that attract college and community members throughout the semester, as well as college events such as regional board meetings. Students get the experience of running a restaurant, and this expansion—which will add 630 square feet to the existing space—will allow even more people to sample Hospitality Administration students’ cuisine.

The English, Bonter, Mitchell Foundation is a Fort Wayne-based organization that contributes to charitable organizations, especially spaces that benefit the public. In its 35-year history, the foundation has helped a wide variety of organizations; last year alone, it contributed $5 million to charitable organizations.