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Epicurean Charitable Foundation - Las Vegas

Dear Friends, Supporters & Students,

We are moving into a very exciting time of year for ECF and our students. Our 13th annual M.E.N.U.S. (Mentoring & Educating Nevada’s Upcoming Students) event will be held on Friday, Oct. 17, at MGM Grand and feature an exclusive poolside dine-around followed by preferred seating at a performance by three-time Grammy Award-winning sensation, Zac Brown Band, inside MGM Grand Garden Arena.

M.E.N.U.S. 2014 is continuing to take shape as our biggest and best event yet. In addition to admission to the live concert, guests will be treated to a poolside dine-around highlighted by many of the top chefs and restaurants in the city. The dine-around will also include a silent auction, strolling entertainers and a posh VIP area. ECF students play a major role in every M.E.N.U.S. event, gaining hands-on experience with setup, execution and logistics.

Another opportunity unique to our students, in addition to M.E.N.U.S. and the invaluable mentorship program, is the Avero New York City Restaurant Education Experience. This annual trip sends a deserving student on a four-day educational immersion into New York City, allowing them to meet and learn from the city’s top restaurateurs, chefs and hoteliers. We were excited to announce 2014’s winner, Wendy Pimentel, a senior at Art Institute of Las Vegas. She shares some of her experiences on the trip with her mentor, Adam Odegard, below.

The ECF mission, our unique programs and opportunities, and the inspiring success stories of our students would not be possible without your continued support. I am honored to host M.E.N.U.S. 2014 at MGM Grand this year and look forward to seeing you all there on Oct. 17. As always, you can stay up-to-date on everything ECF at, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

All the best,

Jason Shkorupa
President of ECF
Vice President of Food and Beverage for MGM Grand

Jason Shkorupa  
Zac Brown Band– photo by Paul Mobley

The three-time GRAMMY Award-winning and multi-platinum artists, Zac Brown Band, has become one of music’s most heralded acts. The band's three platinum-selling albums, Uncaged, You Get What You Give and The Foundation have together sold more than six million copies and produced a historic series of 11 No. 1 hit singles. Last year on the road, the group performed for more than 1.3 million fans during a run of more than 70 headline dates and more than a dozen major festival appearances. The band’s most recent project is the release of The Grohl Sessions Vol. 1.

M.E.N.U.S. 2014 is presented by:

Platinum Sponsors Include:


Wendy Pimentel traveled to New York City with her ECF mentor, Adam Odegard (founder and president of Epicurean Strategic Partners), from Aug. 11 to Aug. 14 as part of the Avero New York City Restaurant Education Experience. During their visit, Wendy and Adam got to meet and learn from leading chefs, managers, restaurateurs and hoteliers while visiting some of the city’s most prominent dining establishments.

The Avero Restaurant Education Experience has been awarded exclusively to ECF students since its inception in 2010. As part of the trip, Wendy met with the Avero executive team to learn how the company’s restaurant software technology helps food and beverage operators improve efficiency and guest experience and drive profits. Avero is the leading provider of insights and solutions to the hospitality industry, integrating seamlessly with more than 50 labor and restaurant POS systems.

After returning from her trip, Wendy took the time to answer a few questions to highlight the experience:

Describe your overall impression of the Avero New York City Restaurant Education Experience:
“Incredible! I had an amazing time. Everything was perfectly planned and well organized. I was always doing and learning something and had a great time meeting new people and experiencing new things.”

What was your favorite part of the trip?
“My favorite parts included Damien Avero’s talk about being successful, Eataly, Brooklyn Bowl and vising the Empire State Building. Damien’s talk about being successful made me want to go out and push myself more. Eataly was such an interesting concept and the food was flavorful and simple. Brooklyn Bowl was so much fun! And since I had never been to New York, looking over the city from atop the Empire State Building was magnificent. I feel like I was able to see the whole city even though I was only there for a few days.”

What is a favorite thing that you ate? Did you try anything you’ve never tasted before?
“I think my favorite dish was from Reynard. We ordered a scallop dish with watermelon pieces and crème fraiche. It was an interesting dish because I would have never thought to put those ingredients together, but the combination of the flavors was remarkable.”

What did you learn about Avero during the trip?
“I learned about Slingshot, the program, the Avero App and upcoming projects. I learned what companies use Avero, how they use it and about Avero culture. The Slingshot program is where a company goes to find their data. It shows how many covers or guests they had, how much they made and which products are selling and not selling. They also showed me how companies can see if losses are due to employee theft.”

What was your overall impression of New York City? Had you been there before?
“Amazing! I had never been to New York City, so it meant so much to me to go to the hospitality capital. It was always a dream of mine to go and Avero made it happen! I was so happy to be there, and I was always looking up because the buildings are so high! You cannot see the sky when you’re in the city because there is so much going on. It was great to be in a city with so much constantly going on.”

Did you bond with your mentor during the experience?
“I did bond with my mentor. We spent a lot of time together and I feel that Adam and I established a better friendship.”

Would you recommend applying for the experience to future ECF students?
“I would definitely recommend applying! If you don’t get it one year, apply the next year! Keep trying, because it was an amazing experience. Even if you are not a food and beverage student, you should apply because you learn so much more about the industry and you are always learning something new. You get to learn about Avero and their products. You get advice and mentoring from the people that you encounter. This is the experience of a lifetime and I had an incredible time. I hope that other students get the opportunity to experience it as well.”


Congratulations to Daniela Sanchez who was awarded the George Seess scholarship by the Cultural Diversity Foundation.


Congratulations to AJ Johnson who was selected to participate in the Hard Rock Resort and Casino Hospitality Internship Program.


Ciro Fodera graduated from the Culinary Institute of Arts in July with a Bachelor in Culinary Arts Management. Fodera graduated Magna Cum Laude and received the Jacob Rosenthal Leadership Award.


Karen Nava was selected to participate in the Presidential Student Ambassador Program at UNLV. She is also serving as an RA this year and is president of the school’s chapter of National Society of Minorities in Hospitality (NSMH).


Marissa Martino was named as a partner at Epicurean Strategic Partners.


ECF welcomes Tim Jorgensen, general manager of House of Blues Las Vegas, as a new board member.


Cultural Diversity Foundation

The Cultural Diversity Foundation (CDF) is a non-profit organization which strives to provide learning opportunities that afford individuals from disadvantaged populations, regardless of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, opportunities to achieve their highest educational and professional goals. To that end, our mission is to create opportunities to learn by promoting, encouraging and enhancing the educational, professional and personal growth of disadvantaged or underserved youth and adults through the development of educational programs that support their upward mobility.

The CDF awards several scholarships between $1,500 and $2,500 annually to high school seniors and currently enrolled college students. ECF student Daniela Sanchez was one of the 2014 recipients.


2014 Silver State Awards

ECF is honored and thankful to serve as the official beneficiary for the 2014 Silver State Awards on Tuesday, Sept. 23. The Silver State Awards recognize the best in Nevada’s culinary industry and are hosted by Nina Radetich; Dayna Roselli; and Chris Phillips of “Zowie Bowie.”


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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