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Epicurean Charitable Foundation - Las Vegas

Dear Friends, Supporters and Students,

Our 12th annual M.E.N.U.S. (Mentoring & Educating Nevada’s Upcoming Students) fundraiser was held last month on Friday, Oct. 4, at Luxor Hotel and Casino.

The event featured an exclusive cocktail reception, a private show by the Jabbawockeez, a poolside dine-around highlighted by many of the top chefs and restaurants in the city and an energized after-party hosted by LAX Nightclub. ECF also received an official proclamation from the City of Las Vegas declaring Oct. 4 as ‘ECF Day.’

On behalf of the executive committee, I’d like to sincerely thank all board members, students, donors, sponsors and friends who came out to support our organization. We raised substantial funds for local students and provided the young individuals with an invaluable learning experience working one of the biggest fundraisers of the year.

The success of the M.E.N.U.S. event and our foundation would not be possible without the support of our donors, sponsors and partners. Together, we are changing the lives of these young students by providing them with the opportunity to pursue their dreams. We help open the door to their future, and our brilliant students continue to exceed expectations by charging through to limitless possibilities.

Along with thanking everyone for their support, I’d like to officially welcome our new executive director, Melissa Arias, to the ECF family. Melissa joined us shortly before M.E.N.U.S. and did an incredible job jumping into action to ensure our organization had a successful and profitable event. Coming from an extensive background in the nonprofit sector, most recently serving as the director of development and distinguished events for the American Cancer Society, we are confident Melissa is the right choice to lead ECF into the future.

We are in the process of planning more unique events and developments in the near future, and look forward to growing as a foundation with your support. Please remember to visit our website at for more information, ‘like’ us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @EpicureanLV for photos and more.


Jason Shkorupa
President of ECF

Jason Shkorupa - photo  
M.E.N.U.S. 2013

‘ECF Day’ Proclamation

ECF Executive Committee receives ‘ECF Day’ Proclamation

Chris Phillips of “Zowie Bowie”

Chris Phillips of “Zowie Bowie”

  ECF Students with Chef Carla Pellegrino

ECF Students with Chef Carla Pellegrino

  Mark Shunock & Justin Mortelliti

Mark Shunock & Justin Mortelliti of
“Rock of Ages”


Notable celebrities who attended the event included Chris Philips of “Zowie Bowie,” the casts of “FANTASY” and “Thunder from Down Under,” Chef Carla Pellegrino, Justin Mortelliti and Mark Shunock of “Rock of Ages” and magician Murray Sawchuck.

Lincoln Spoor and Jason Shkorupa

Lincoln Spoor of Feel Good Brands and ECF President Jason Shkorupa

  Michael Kennedy and Tim Haughinberry

ECF Secretary Michael Kennedy and Tim Haughinberry of Back Bar USA


Notable attendees included Lincoln Spoor, CEO of Feel Good Brands LLC; Tim Haughinberry, president of Back Bar USA; Renee West, president and COO of Luxor & Excalibur Hotel & Casinos; and Rose McKinney-James, managing principal for Energy Works Consulting and a director at MGM Resorts International, among others.

Christina Clifton,Gordon Ramsay BURGR, Chefs and ECF Students

ECF Board Member Christina Clifton Enjoys Gordon Ramsay BURGR with Chefs and ECF Students


Guests experienced a dine-around at Luxor’s pool featuring more than 30 of the top restaurants and beverage distributors in the city.

ECF Students with Michael Kennedy

ECF Students with Michael Kennedy


M.E.N.U.S. is an annual fundraiser that raises money to support ECF’s primary charitable endeavor of providing full-ride scholarships to deserving local students interested in pursuing careers in hospitality or the culinary arts. Since 2001, ECF has donated more than $1 million to Clark County students.

student group photo

“Thank you for supporting ECF and changing our lives!”

#MENUS2013 gallery

Click HERE to View the Complete #MENUS2013
Photo Gallery!

  Fun photos

Click HERE to View all of the fun photos thanks to MirMir!

  Melissa Arias  

ECF is excited to announce the hiring of Melissa Arias as the new executive director for the nonprofit organization.

As executive director, Arias will oversee all fundraising, scholarship activities and day-to-day operations for the organization while working collaboratively with the executive committee, board of directors and students.

“It is an honor to join ECF and work with the board members and students,” said Arias. “My goal is to help raise the necessary funds and awareness needed to propel these deserving young individuals into becoming the next generation of hospitality and culinary leaders.”

Arias joins ECF after seven years with the American Cancer Society, most recently serving as the director of development and distinguished events from 2007 to 2013. In this role, she was responsible for the planning and execution of all marketing, fundraising, gift cultivation and special events management while overseeing the organization’s budgetary compliance. Arias was also responsible for developing a scholarship program for students with childhood cancer, leading the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and managing and executing the Coaches vs. Cancer Golf Tournament and Gala.

A graduate of Towson University in Towson, Md., she is also the founder of Young Professionals Against Cancer, received a Certificate of Commendation from U.S. Senator Harry Reid and was inducted into the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Nevada’s Hall of Fame in 2008.


Dom DeMarco’s 2nd Annual Month of Giving – December 9-13
Dom DeMarco’s Pizzeria will donate 10 percent of pizza profits each week during December to a different local nonprofit organization. ECF is thankful to be the beneficiary during the week of Dec. 9-13.

Strikes for Scholarships Bowling Tournament – Saturday, Jan. 11
ECF will honor January as National Mentorship Month by hosting the inaugural ‘Strikes for Scholarships’ bowling tournament fundraiser from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11, at South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa.

Participants may sign up to bowl individually, as a team or bid to play with one of the notable participating celebrities. Bowlers are encouraged to dress in support of their favorite college or university, and prizes will be awarded throughout the day. Registration is priced at $35 for individuals, $125 for teams and celebrity bidding will be available through


Getting to know …

Alexandria von Mohr  

Alexandria von Mohr

High School: Northwest Career & Technical Academy
College: University of Las Vegas, Nevada – Class of 2016
Major: Hospitality Management
Current Job: Sales Associate at Talulah G Boutique
Mentor: Ana Marie Mormando


What does ECF mean to you?
“ECF is a family of motivated, caring individuals in the hospitality industry. As an ECF scholar, I am able to study my passion -hospitality- which I would not be able to afford otherwise.”

What interests you in pursuing a career in hospitality or the culinary arts?
“One of my favorite childhood memories was coming to Las Vegas and staying at the hotels. I loved the exciting atmosphere and how much fun I had with my family. Now that I’m older, I’m still mesmerized by these qualities and am pursuing a career in hospitality so I can be a part of creating similar lasting memories for future generations.”

What are your favorite activities outside of the classroom?
“Outside of the classroom, I enjoy spending time with my family, especially my little brother and sister. I also like to be outside and to be active by riding my bike, skateboarding and rollerblading. In addition, I like volunteering at my brother’s elementary school.”

Ciro Fodera  

Ciro Fodera

High School: Southeast Career & Technical Academy
College: Culinary Institute of America, New York – Class of 2014
Major/Minor: Culinary Arts Management/Business Management
Current Jobs: Tasting Room Sales Associate at Clinton Vineyards and Dining Room Captain/Head Cook at Buttermilk Falls Inn in Milton, NY
Mentor: Sean DiCicco


What does ECF mean to you?
“ECF motivates and empowers us to become more than we thought possible. I’ve gained a multitude of knowledge from my mentor and the board and have been provided with first-hand examples of determination, discipline, compassion, humbleness and commitment to excellence”

Where do you see yourself in five years?
“In five years, I see myself working in a management position as a cook for my mentor, Sean DiCicco, at Mandalay Bay.”

If you could eat dinner with three people from the past or present, who would you choose and why?
1. Charlie Palmer
“We met briefly before; I doubt he remembers me, but I remember him! It would be a great experience to show him how much I’ve changed since going through the Culinary Institute of America.”

2. Jean Antheleme Brillat-Savarin
“His famous work, Physiologie du gout, is a book that we study relentlessly.  Brillat-Savarin discourses on the pleasures of the table, which he considers a science. His French models were the stylists of the Ancient Régime: Voltaire, Rousseau, Fénelon, Buffon, Cochin and d'Aguesseau. He’s also responsible for the famous quote: ‘A dessert without cheese is like a beautiful woman with only one eye.’ I think that’s really humorous, so I think he’d make for an entertaining guest at dinner.”

3. René Redzepi
“His restaurant, Noma, was voted as Best Restaurant in the World at the San Pellegrino Awards in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Noma’s cookbook acts as more of an art gallery than a cookbook, and Redzepi’s dishes are beautiful and inspiring. I’d like to meet him just to ask how he comes up with his ideas.”

AJ Johnson  

AJ Johnson, a sophomore at UNLV, was appointed as the Community Service Chair for UNLV’s chapter of the National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH)

Cindy Ureno  

Cindy Ureno, a 2013 graduate, recently accepted a promotion to the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa.

Daniela Sanchez  

Daniela Sanchez, a freshman at UNLV, took home second place with her team for two case studies presented at the Utah Collegiate DECA Fall Leadership Conference

Mercedes Sanchez  

Mercedes Sanchez, a junior at UNLV, will travel to Aspen, Col., this summer for a food and beverage internship


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, which currently include: 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.

ECF is not only dedicated to enriching the lives of local hospitality students, but also to positively impacting the Las Vegas community on the whole. Recently, the Foundation made generous contributions to other local philanthropic organizations including donations of $25,000 to Keep Memory Alive, $15,000 to Nevada’s Latin Chamber of Commerce and $15,000 to the Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation.

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

Las Vegas Weekly

Four Thoughts from M.E.N.U.S.

Fox 5

Michael Kennedy, AJ Johnson and Chef Terence Fong of Zenshin for M.E.N.U.S.

News 3

M.E.N.U.S. participant TENDER Steak & Seafood featured to promote the event

Las Vegas Sun

M.E.N.U.S. Photos

Las Vegas Sun

Q&A with Kelley Jones and M.E.N.U.S. preview


Los Angeles Times


Smart & Final

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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