Mini Mentor Lunch Inspires 200 Students


More than 45 restaurant professionals had lunch with 200 ProStart students at Experience Hospitality: Orange County. This unique event connects employers and high school students for a fun and interactive “mini mentor” session. Industry volunteers shared advice, answered questions, and inspired. Students also practiced shaking hands and perfecting their elevator pitches.

Imagine being sixteen and having lunch with the CEO of a large restaurant company. Or getting to ask an executive chef about what he looks for when he hires. That’s exactly the type of access students had at Experience Hospitality! Volunteers included John Tallichet (President of Specialty Restaurants Corp.), Huntley Castner (CFO of Farmer Boys), Reem Hufnagel (HR for the Anaheim Marriott) and Wing Lam (Founder of Wahoo’s Fish Taco).

Before having lunch with industry pros, students went on behind-the-scenes tours of Anaheim’s world-class hospitality venues. The tours included demos by chefs, touring the presidential suites at the hotels, and exploring event space.

College access was also a major theme of the day – the key to management careers in hospitality. The California State University Hospitality & Tourism Alliance hosted a college panel to kick-off the event. The college panel talked about scholarships, choosing a major, the transition to college life, and more.

The students are part of the ProStart® program, a culinary arts and restaurant entrepreneurship program supported by the CRA Foundation.


  • 28% of the students who attend Experience Hospitality have never been to a hotel
  • For 43% of students, this is their first field trip of the year
  • First time “networking” for 69% of students

Behind-the-scenes tours: 

  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Grand California Hotel
  • Hilton
  • House of Blues
  • Hyatt Place Anaheim Resort Convention Center
  • Marriott
  • Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
  • Sheraton Park Hotel
  • Splitsville

CRA Thanks these establishments for making Experience Hospitality possible!

  • CSU Hospitality & Tourism Alliance
  • Hilton Anaheim
  • Anaheim Marriott
  • California Community Colleges
  • STC Anaheim GardenWalk
  • CRA Los Angeles Chapter
  • CRA Orange County Chapter
  • HMSHost Foundation
  • Wienerschnitzel
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