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Epicurean Charitable Foundation - Las Vegas

Dear Friends, Supporters and Students,

As M.E.N.U.S. (Mentoring & Educating Nevada’s Upcoming Students) quickly approaches, we wanted to take the time to share our stories from last month’s incredible Avero New York City Restaurant Education Experience.

For the first time ever, ECF and Avero LLC selected two deserving students as winners of the one-of-a-kind adventure. Please join me in once again congratulating Vildan Buric and Claudia Soler on being selected!

This is the fourth year Avero has offered the NYC experience, which is exclusive to ECF students. The award recipients, along with their mentors, traveled to New York City for a four-day educational immersion into the food and beverage industry. The students met and learned from leading chefs, managers and restaurateurs while experiencing some of the city’s most prominent dining trends.

This year, I had the great fortune of joining Vildan, one of my mentees, in addition to Claudia and her mentor, Kelley Jones. We explored the city together and gained a behind-the-scenes look into one of the world’s busiest tourist destinations. We were also privileged to meet with the Avero executive team to learn how the company’s business intelligence technology helps food and beverage operators improve efficiency and guest experience.

I’d like to thank Avero for hosting this fantastic educational experience every year and I’m honored and thankful to have experienced it myself. Vildan and Claudia worked extremely hard to earn this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and both were gracious enough to share their stories and photos below.

None of our scholarship awards or unique educational programs would be possible without your continued support. I’d like to thank all of our valued donors, friends, mentors, board members and partners for helping to provide students like Vildan and Claudia with the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Please remember to “like” ECF on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @EpicureanLV for more photos, stories and the latest information on M.E.N.U.S.

We hope to see you October 4th!


(Jason Shkorupa signature)

Michael Kennedy
Secretary of ECF

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

Epicurean Charitable Foundation’s 12th annual fundraiser, M.E.N.U.S., will be held from 6 to 11:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 4, at Luxor Hotel and Casino. The gala will feature a private performance of the all-new show, “PRiSM,” by the Jabbawockeez and an exclusive dine-around highlighted by many of the top restaurants in the city. LAX Nightclub will host the official M.E.N.U.S. after-party immediately following the dine-around at 11:30 p.m.



Aureole Restaurant
Bradley Ogden’s Hops & Harvest
Brew Pub
Canal Street Steak House
Casa Fuente Cigars
Don Vito’s
DW Bistro
Echo & Rig Butcher and Steakhouse
Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House
Get Fresh Companies

Gordon Ramsay BURGR
House of Blues
Hugo’s Cellar
KGB by Chef Kerry Simon
LAVO Italian Restaurant
Nine Fine Irishmen
Prime Steakhouse
Red Square Restaurant & Lounge
Rice & Company

Sambalatte Torrefazione
Table 10 by Chef Emeril Lagasse
Tacos & Tequila
TAO Asian Bistro
TENDER Steak & Seafood
Terra Verde
Zenshin Asian Restaurant


RSVP by October 2, 2013

Please contact Liz Gaiter at 702.932.5098 or [email protected] for more information.


Claudia and Vildan are seniors at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and are currently pursuing degrees in hotel administration. They have shared their experiences below to showcase how the Avero trip opened their eyes to the larger hospitality world, introduced them to New York City and helped to strengthen the relationships with their respective mentors.


Meatball Shop


When I found out I received a trip as part of the Avero New York City Restaurant Educational Experience, I was ecstatic. I was amazed by the entire trip. From the restaurants we visited, to studying about Avero and meeting and learning from some of the best restaurateurs in New York City, it was truly an unforgettable experience.” – Vildan


Brooklyn Bowl


Getting introduced to the New York City food & beverage industry by Avero was an eye-opening experience! Not only were we exposed to the city that has produced some of the most legendary restaurants, but we also had a full introduction to the importance and impact Avero has crafted for restaurateurs.” – Claudia


Avero World Headquarters


My favorite part was learning about Avero. The employees were all so generous, friendly and happy to be there. I learned how Avero began, how it benefits the food and beverage industry and discovered a few future products that are currently being developed.” – Vildan


Eataly NYC


This trip absolutely changed the relationship Kelley and I have, as we had only been paired together a few months before the trip. It helped us get to know each other, not only as mentor and protégée, but also as friends.”
– Claudia


Empire State Building


I have never been to New York City before, but I heard it was a one-of-a-kind city. I can honestly say I was blown away! From Times Square to the Empire State Building, New York is beautiful. The city is full of energy, and it seemed like the people there did everything with a purpose.” – Vildan


Rooftop of the NoMad Hotel


I would not only recommend this experience to ECF students, but I will be happy to provide guidance and assistance with the application if needed! Anyone who is passionate about this career path will benefit greatly from the Avero experience.” – Claudia


Soler and Buric were the fourth and fifth students to experience the educational journey since it was developed exclusively for ECF in 2010. Other students to enjoy the program include Ciro Fodera in 2012, Karina Saucedo in 2011 and Leizell Joy Seligbon in 2010.


Ciro Fodera


Karina Saucedo


Leizell Seligbon

Avero is the leading software-as-a-service business intelligence provider to the hospitality industry. With products such as Avero Slingshot and Avero Single Server Mentoring, Avero provides restaurant operators with relevant data-driven insights to help increase revenue, reduce costs, streamline operations and provide a better guest experience. Avero partners with the food and beverage leaders in fine dining, casual dining, hotels and casinos in over 20 countries around the world. Visit their website at

Karen Nava  

Karen Nava, a sophomore at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, currently serves as the vice president for UNLV’s National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH)

Ciro Fodera  

Ciro Fodera, a junior at the Culinary Institute of America in New York City, currently serves as sous chef for Buttermilk Farms Inn and Spa in Milton, N.Y. The Eta Sigma Delta honor’s society member has recently been awarded the Hector Boiardi Endowed Scholarship and International Wine and Food Society Scholarship.

Jason Shkorupa  

Congratulations to ECF President Jason Shkorupa, who has been promoted to vice president of food and beverage for MGM Grand. In his new role, Jason will oversee all day-to-day food and beverage operations for the country’s largest hotel resort. He has worked for MGM Resorts International for 20 years, most recently serving as vice president of food and beverage for Luxor and Excalibur Hotel & Casinos.

Luis Oliveira  

Luiz Oliveira, Owner of Sambalatte Torrefazione, will open a second Sambalatte location in Southwest Las Vegas in early December.


ECF has been able to provide financial support and guidance to students for more than 12 years thanks to generous contributions from donors, which currently include Johnson Brothers, Southern Wine & Spirits, Wirtz Beverage Nevada, Fiji Water, MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment 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.



Vildan Buric and Claudia Soler as recipients of the Avero New York City Restaurant Education Experience



Jason Shkorupa and Karina Saucedo on Channel 13 “Making Las Vegas a Better Place to Live” segment



Michael Kennedy and Vildan Buric on Channel 8 “Cool at School” segment


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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