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Epicurean Charitable Foundation - Las Vegas

Dear Friends, Supporters and Students,

I am honored to announce that we have selected four Clark County high school seniors as scholarship recipients for the 2014 class.

This year we received a new record number of incredible applicants, all with outstanding accomplishments and compelling backgrounds. While it was a difficult decision for myself and the selection committee to narrow it down, we truly believe that we have chosen the four young women best fit to lead our industry into the future. Our 2014 class, with a combined GPA of 4.21, includes: Cindy Fuentes, Candace Kozell, Melanie Saucedo and Jacqueline Vasquez.

We surprised each recipient with the announcement during what they thought was another step of the interview process. The unfiltered emotion felt in that room, both from the students and our board, was an overwhelming reminder of what ECF is all about. I am proud to be part of this foundation and thankful for the continued support and dedication shown by our sponsors, donors and partners. Without you, moments like these would not be possible.

As we welcome four new students into the ECF family, we are also excited to successfully release five young college graduates into the professional world. Please join me in congratulating winter graduates, Nachely Martinez and Nexie Hingpit, along with spring and summer graduates Vildan Buric, Ciro Fodera, Emily Hewett and Jasmyn Franklin.

We are also finalizing details for M.E.N.U.S. 2014 and expect to release an announcement shortly. We look forward to hosting you at what is shaping up to be one of the biggest and best galas yet. For more information on our students, graduates, board members and M.E.N.U.S., please visit and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @EpicureanLV


Jason Shkorupa
President of ECF

Jason Shkorupa  
Cindy Fuentes  

Well on her way to a successful future, Cindy Fuentes holds a 4.37 GPA at Northwest Career and Technical Academy (NWCTA) and plans to study hotel administration at UNLV. She is a member of the hospitality magnet program, has received certified hotel front desk training from TIPS Incorporated, completed NWCTA’s hospitality START (Skills, Tasks and Results Training) Program and is currently gaining hands-on experience as an intern at Red Rock Casino, Resort & Spa. Fuentes was awarded with the Perfect Attendance Certificate seven times since 2011 and was named ‘Student of the Month’ in her Spanish class in February.

Candace Kozell  

Candace Kozell is a multi-talented student with a 4.13 GPA from Southwest Career and Technical Academy (SWCTA) who plans to pursue a degree in hotel administration at UNLV. She is studying in the hospitality magnet program at her school and has been a National Honor Society member since 2012. Kozell has been active with the state DECA program since 2011 and recently took home third place at the Nevada DECA State Conference. With an eye for the silver screen, she also serves as a reporter for the Southwest Shadow, SWCTA’s broadcast network, and was awarded first place in the ‘Best in Show’ category at the 2013 Las Vegas Broadcasting Awards.

Melanie Saucendo  

Boasting an impressive 4.55 GPA from NWCTA, Melanie Saucedo plans to pursue a degree in hotel administration at UNLV this fall. The academic ace received the Teacher’s Choice Award at NWCTA in 2010, has earned nine Perfect Attendance Certificates and received straight A’s from 2011 through 2013. She is also involved with her school’s hospitality magnet program, is certified in hotel front desk training by TIPS Incorporated and completed the hospitality START Program. Saucedo was recognized with the Outstanding Citizenship Award from NWCTA in 2010.

Jacqueline Vasquez  

Jacqueline Vasquez holds a 3.8 GPA at SWCTA and will receive an advanced honors diploma with an emphasis in culinary arts and hospitality upon graduation this spring. She plays an active role in the Family Career Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), serving as chapter secretary, chapter treasurer and member while earning a gold and silver medal for banner design at the FCCLA State Competitions in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Vasquez is gaining real-world experience as a sous chef for Coyote Café at SWCTA and gives back to the community by volunteering as a cheerleading coach for National Youth Sports Nevada.

Nachely Martinez  

“Epicurean Charitable Foundation represents a support system and a family to me, and provides the extra push of motivation needed to succeed in the competitive Las Vegas hospitality market.”

Nachely Martinez
Front Desk Manager, The Venetian | The Palazzo Resort, Hotel & Casino
UNLV Class of 2013

Nexie Hingpit  

“Epicurean Charitable Foundation has provided me a gateway for greater opportunities in life and guided me toward a success career. I’m confident in my abilities to overcome the ever-changing challenges of the hospitality industry thanks to my experiences through ECF.”

Nexie Hingpit
Front Desk Agent, The Venetian | The Palazzo Resort, Hotel & Casino
UNLV Class of 2013

Vildan Buric  

“I can't even begin to express what Epicurean Charitable Foundation has meant to me. It has provided me with the knowledge, insight and guidance to grow as an individual. I truly believe that with the support of ECF there is nothing I cannot achieve. I am forever grateful for this opportunity.”

Vildan Buric
Front Desk Agent, Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
UNLV Class of 2014

Ciro Fodera  

“Epicurean Charitable Foundation is an invaluable resource of knowledge, networks, inspiration, enthusiasm and hopefulness. The foundation itself is the epitome of a role model.”

Ciro Fodera
Culinary Institute of America – New York Class of 2014

Jasmyn Franklin  

“Epicurean Charitable Foundation is a family of philanthropic students, leaders, and executives who understand the importance of community and preparing for the future. ECF provides students with life-changing opportunities.”

Jasmyn Franklin
Campus Coordinator in Human Resources and Recruiting, Hilton Worldwide
Penn State University Class of 2014

Emily Hewett  

“Epicurean Charitable Foundation provides me with the opportunity to pursue my dreams in hospitality. I’m confident knowing that I have the full support of the ECF board, executives and other students behind me in every challenge I come to face.”

Emily Hewett
Johnson & Wales University Class of 2014
Teaching Assistant at Johnson & Wales University and Culinary Brand Ambassador at Chobani


Dress for Success Southern Nevada will outfit new and current female ECF scholarship recipients with professional attire and image consulting for job interviews throughout Las Vegas, along with providing additional job-readiness tips and skills for the workplace. ECF students will also receive a full week’s wardrobe when they are successful in landing their first job. Dress for Success is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing professional clothing, employment retention programs and valuable image consulting and interview skills to financially-underprivileged women seeking successful careers.


Getting to know …

Andrea Rocca-Campano  

Andrea Rocca-Capano

High School: Valley High School
College: University of Las Vegas, Nevada – Class of 2017
Major: Hotel Management
Mentor: Joe Romano


What does ECF mean to you?
“To me, ECF represents an opportunity. It is an opportunity for young students with potential, but little financial resources, to succeed.”

Describe the relationship with your mentor:
“My mentor is a very respected man with whom I hope to share my successes. He is an involved and prominent leader in the community, and I hope to learn a lot from what he has to offer.”

If you could eat dinner with three people from the past or present, who would you chose and why?
“I would choose Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Bill Marriott. They are entrepreneurs and successful men who succeeded in what they did. I believe that these men are truly inspiring to someone who wants to achieve greatness, like myself.”

Emily Hewitt  

Emily Hewett

High School: Boulder City High School
College: Johnson & Wales University
Graduation Date: Summer 2014
Major/Minor: Culinary Arts & Food Services Management with an emphasis in Beverage Service Management
Mentor: Scott Farber


What does ECF mean to you?
“ECF means guidance, support and encouragement to be the best I can be in order to carry out my philanthropic ambitions now and in the future. I can always count on someone to turn to for wisdom and honesty. With ECF’s support, I’m reminded every day to stay focused for a better tomorrow.”

What interests you in pursuing a career in the hospitality industry?
“I’m motivated by the idea of bringing joy to others by doing what I love to do. I love that I can create a unique experience for a guest that could potentially change their day, week or life.”

Where do you see yourself in five years?
“In five years I imagine myself graduated with bachelor’s and masters degrees and either working as a butcher in a fine-dining restaurant or working in the front-of-house operations for a luxury resort. I’m still figuring out whether I want to work in front or back of the house for a restaurant after I graduate. I definitely see myself taking advantage of every opportunity to travel and develop my culinary and hospitality knowledge with new cultural experiences.”

Karina SaucedoJennifer LeeNexie HingpitNachely MartinezVesna BoskovicMalek Sadri

We honored some of our recent graduates who have earned positions in the field during a board meeting this month. Congratulations to Karina Saucedo, Jennifer Lee, Nexie Hingpit, Nachely Martinez, Vesna Boskovic and Malek Sadri.

Daniela Sanchez  

Daniela Sanchez, a freshman at UNLV, has earned a summer internship in the food and beverage department for The St. Regis Aspen Resort, managed by Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Jasmyn Franklin  

Jasmyn Franklin, a graduate of Penn State University, was honored with the 2014 Student Service Award by the College of Health and Human Development.

Vildan Buric  

Vildan Buric, a graduate of UNLV, was recognized with the ‘Outstanding Employee’ award by Leading Quality Assurance for his outstanding service delivery at Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas.

Luiz Oliveira  

Luiz Oliveira, owner of Sambalatte Torrefazione, opened a third location at Monte Carlo Resort & Casino after recently launching a second branch at the intersection of Jones and 215.

Luiz Oliveira  

ECF welcomes newest board member, Sujoy Brahma, who serves as vice president of food and beverage for Luxor Hotel and Casino and Excalibur Hotel & Casino.


ECF has been able to provide financial support and guidance to students for more than 12 years thanks to generous contributions from donors and sponsors, including: Feel Good Brands, FIJI Water, Johnson Brothers/E&J Gallo, MGM Resorts International, Back Bar USA, Southern Wine & Spirits, Wirtz Beverage, Avero LLC and more. Future donors can support ECF with a monetary or in-kind donation, by matching a gift or by becoming a scholarship or M.E.N.U.S sponsor.

For more information, please contact Melissa Arias at 702.932.5098, [email protected] or visit the ECF website at

Upcoming ECF Events  We hope you'll join us at MENUS on Friday, Sept. 30 at M Resort.  The evening will culminate in a private concert by Lifehouse.  For sponsorship and event information please contact Elizabeth Muto at 702.932.5098 or via email at
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