Students in The School of Hospitality Business at Michigan State presented the 65th Les Gourmets reception and dinner on Saturday, April 2 at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center on campus.

Led by CEO Lauren LaFontaine (BA ’16), CFO Sara Schumar (BA ’16), and Assistant Director Joe Mirsky (BA ’16), a dedicated student executive board planned and prepared for an entire year to host what has become an annual MSU treasure.

One hundred thirty-five guests enjoyed a sumptuous evening, starting with a reception featuring several food stations and unique cocktails.  There was a cheese presentation paired with Arcturos Riesling; caviar and crème fresh belinis with Mawby Cremant; and oysters on the half Les Gourmets group photoshell and fresh shrimp with sparkling stout.  The students created “bubbly with rosewater and rose petals,” and “emerald elixir” (whiskey, amaretto, and sour), and beautiful ice carvings by Guest Chef Scott Miller adorned the reception room.  Sparty even arrived in his tux!

Moving from the reception into the Big Ten Rooms A & B, guests were greeted with tables adorned with beautiful flower arrangements and gold pineapples.  A green and gold color scheme evoked the elegance of a bygone era.  The exquisite menu included a first course of port wine-poached Anjou pear resting on a bed of organic greens, Chioggia beets, shaved parmigiana-reggiano, and champagne vinaigrette.  This was followed by an intermezzo of frozen raspberries in Mawby Cremant classic brut.  The entrée featured a duet of petite filet mignon with veal demi-glace, sliced breast of Maple Leaf Farms duckling with Michigan cherry gastrique, paired with a mélange of sautéed foraged mushrooms and a blend of black and white quinoa with a spinach soufflé stuffed Roma tomato.  Each course was paired with a delicious wine.

Between courses, guests learned about the storied history of Les Gourmets from Chef-Professor Allan Sherwin (BA ’64), from its humble beginnings as a club in 1951, through the halcyon years as a black tie dinner dance hosting over 200 guests and providing lavish entertainment, to its current showcase of student talent in event planning and the creation of a truly exceptional menu. Dr. Jeff Elsworth announced the Les Gourmets scholarship recipients:

  • Sarah Lerche (BA ’18)
  • Stephanie Ragatzki (BA ’17)
  • Chelsea Donahue (BA ’16)
  • Kortnie Bush (BA ’16)
  • Courtney Smallwood (BA ’16)

The evening ended with a dessert reception where guests enjoyed various mousses and delicacies from the award-winning Bon Bon Bon of Detroit, owned by past Les Gourmets CEO Alexandra Clark (BA ’10).  All items were served with cherry apple hard cider.

Over 80 student volunteers from The School joined the executive board to produce Les Gourmets. They were guided by Chef Sherwin, as well as The School’s Culinary Coordinator Chef Rick Brown, and Chefs Matt Wilson from the Kellogg Center, Bob Zehnder from Zehnder’s of Frankenmuth, Muhammad Siddiqui from Sodexo, and Carl Peabody from Michigan State.

As in past years, generous individual and company sponsors enabled the students to plan a spectacular event.

“We attempted to provide our guests with a memorable evening, and to uphold the tradition of one of the premier events in The School,” says Lauren.  “There could be no better group of people with whom to share this remarkable and invaluable experience.  Our executive board worked so hard and learned life-long lessons in leadership and in exceeding expectations – and we had a blast!”