As part of its ongoing Silver Anniversary celebration, The Townsend Hotel is hosting a second random-drawing entry contest designed to acknowledge and reward local community volunteers. The Townsend, in an effort to recognize and thank its patrons and the community for supporting the property for the last 25 years, and in honor of all of great volunteer work done by so many area residents, is inviting anyone eligible to participate in its “Pay it Forward” volunteer recognition contest.
Eligible contestants will be entered in a random drawing to win a gift certificate for one of several Townsend Hotel experience prizes. Dubbed the “Pay it Forward” Contest, winning entrants may choose to either enjoy the prizes themselves as a “thank you” for their volunteer efforts, or pay it forward by donating the prize back to the non-profit organization for which they volunteer (to be used at a future fundraising event).
Pay It Forward Community Service
Kimberly Esch, corporate catering sales manager for The Townsend Hotel, didn’t exactly arrive to her new role in June 2013 via the “traditional path,” but that’s precisely what makes her so qualified.
Esch grew up on a farm, which she says taught her the value of hard work, dedication and selflessness – characteristics that are key to success in the hospitality industry. Additionally, Esch didn’t decide to attend college to study hotel administration and hospitality management until the age of 25. “Within a month of receiving my acceptance letter from University of Nevada Las Vegas, I packed up my life and moved across country,” said Esch. “I was so excited to be in the city that represents the ‘best of the best’ of what the hospitality industry has to offer.”
At The Townsend, Esch is responsible for establishing new relationships among the area’s business community to further grow the property’s corporate catering clientele. Prior to joining The Townsend, Esch served as the off-premise catering sales manager for Epoch Events Catering in Novi, Mich. Prior to that, she worked in Las Vegas as the special events operations manager for TAO Group, and before that as the special events sales manager at B&B Hospitality Group, the joint venture of Chef Mario Batali and Winemaker Joe Bastianich.
Esch, who takes great pride in providing clients the highest level of quality and service, also dedicates her time and resources to several non-profit organizations. She serves as a committee member for The Charles A. Main M.D. Pediatric Cancer Survivor Scholarship Fund of Beaumont Children’s Hospital, and also as an annual teammate for several cancer research fundraising events.
“Methodical” is a word one might use to describe the culinary career of Andrew Alcid, the chef de cuisine of The Townsend Hotel’s Rugby Grille since April 2013. He prides himself on a self-described, “carefully gauged” job progression, which allowed him opportunities to work for nearly a decade in the kitchens of various high-profile eateries throughout Chicago, including Hubbard Inn, La Tache and Bin 36, among others.
When asked to share a word of wisdom with young chefs just starting their careers, Alcid stuck to that same approach of “systematic passion.” He says, “Follow your heart, to be sure, but before jumping into a career, make sure to do your research.”
One of the best payoffs for Alcid’s disciplined development? He fondly recounts one of his most memorable career achievements participating in the Chicago Food Arts event at the city’s famed Navy Pier. “I was working along some of the greats,” he reflected.
Between his time in Chicago and joining The Townsend culinary team, Alcid previously served as sous chef in Cattletsburg, Ky. He received his culinary education at the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago.
Jared Chorney, a “foodie” both professionally and personally, is The Townsend Hotel’s food and beverage director. Since winter 2013, Chorney has been responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the hotel’s food and beverage department, including the award-winning Rugby Grille, The Townsend Bakery, The Corner and the property’s banquet operations.
Prior to joining The Townsend, Chorney, a culinary industry veteran, most recently served as the general manager of food and beverage operations for the Baronette Renaissance Detroit-Novi Hotel in Novi, Mich. Prior to that, the Rhode Island native served in the same role at the Renaissance Providence Downtown Hotel in Providence, R.I. Chorney also is the former proprietor of Palma Restaurant, a Mediterranean-inspired small plates bistro in New Milford, Conn.
So how does a career gastronome keep himself and The Townsend’s food and beverage program at the top of its class? “Listen to what your guests are saying to you. I have met so many people who think the way they have been doing things for 20 years is the only way…but trends change, and guests’ tastes change,” said Chorney. “You have to be flexible and willing to adapt to what your core group of customers are looking for.”
Chorney also credits his success with the ability to think like an owner. As an entrepreneur who started his own business at 21, Chorney keeps his focus on what is best for the customer and the longevity of the business.
In addition to food and wine, Chorney is a fan of travel and automobiles. He names the opportunity to meet and serve “The Galloping Gourmet” Graham Kerr, as his most memorable career moment to date!
A fan of wine, travel and automobiles, Chorney says his favorite aspect of his job with The Townsend is the opportunity to interact with the hotel’s variety of amazing guests on a daily basis.
From overseeing a summit meeting that included six foreign heads of state, a former president and Henry Kissinger, to helping manage a $9.5 million country club renovation, Shari Sako-Bojan, The Townsend Hotel’s director of banquet operations, has seen and done more than most in her 40+ years in the food and beverage/hospitality industry.
Sako-Bojan, who joined The Townsend team in 2013, is responsible for managing the hotel’s wedding, meeting and catering events. Before The Townsend, she served as club house manager with Great Oaks Country Club in Rochester, Mich. Additionally, Sako-Bojan’s career includes food and beverage management roles with such notable Michigan hotels as The Ritz-Carlton in Dearborn and the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, as well as with prestigious local country clubs Shenandoah in West Bloomfield and Franklin Hills in Farmington Hills.
When asked her best advice for a successful career like hers, Sako-Bojan keeps it simple: “Focus on the big picture.”
A Royal Oak, Mich. resident, Sako-Bojan attended Eastern Michigan University studying communications. She is an active volunteer with several area animal rescue groups.