Linford’s loyalty shines celebrity spotlight on UAA’s Culinary Arts
Loyalty, dedication and commitment are all marks of a life-long friend of UAA, Suzanne (Sue) Linford. This September marked Linford’s 24th year supporting UAA’s Culinary Arts, Hospitality & Restaurant Management program and volunteering at the Celebrity Chef Invitational, UAA’s signature, black-tie event to support culinary student scholarships and maintenance of state-of-the-art learning facilities.
Linford owns Linford of Alaska Inc., a local wholesale food distribution company that has been serving Alaska since 1973. Each year, Linford sponsors a table for her employees to enjoy the Celebrity Chef Invitational while she volunteers in the kitchen, cooking and plating dishes for guests alongside celebrity and local chefs, culinary students and community volunteers. She even has a chef’s jacket embroidered with each year of her involvement to prove it.
One year, Linford was asked to take over the cooking, which required deep frying. She smiled with a slight cringe, recalling, “Oh, I smelled like oil!” But she admitted she missed being in the kitchen this year. “When I’m in the kitchen I don’t have to dress up. I just put on chef clothes.”
Linford’s first gift to Culinary Arts was in 1992. Why? “Because I was asked,” she plainly stated.
A committee of industry and community leaders brainstormed the idea of the Celebrity Chef Invitational as a way of bringing industry leaders to UAA to show them the training their future employees receive and the facilities where they learn. This was a big undertaking. Ann Parrish, a fellow UAA supporter, asked Linford to get involved and make a contribution, so she did.
Donor contributions replaced the original cooler units from 1972 back in 2006. An instructional laboratory was upgraded with new dining tables in 2016. And, a classroom remodeled into a demonstration lab allows students to prepare food while watching instruction on a television, creating opportunity for distance education and improved training.
Linford explained why she continues dedicating her time to the event and investing in the program: “I like a challenge. I sell food. I don’t cook. To see what’s possible and how to do it is a good learning experience.” Giving back at the local level is also important to Linford—local business, local talent, local students.
Last spring, Linford took on a new challenge when she agreed to accept an intern at her wholesale food company. Cheyenne Morse, a recent recipient of a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Restaurant Management (HRM) at UAA was coming home after completing two semesters at partner school Northern Arizona University. The final piece of the HRM program is a capstone experience requiring a 600-hour Alaska internship offered through UAA; it’s designed to provide direct hands-on hotel and restaurant operations management experience during the fifth year of study.
Linford was so impressed that she offered an assistant purchasing position to Morse when it became available at the end of the summer. Morse then had the pleasure of joining Linford at the 24th annual Celebrity Chef Invitational as both a new employee and UAA alumna.
Next fall marks the 25th Celebrity Chef Invitational, and if we’re lucky, Linford’s 25th year as a friend and loyal UAA donor.
By Kelly Donnelly, Development Officer