Eta Sigma Delta members attended the ICHRIE’s Virtual ESD Conference

By Nina King, HTM student and a member of RIT Croatia’s Eta Sigma Delta Honorary Society


December 2, 2021

On November 29, 2021 five ESD Croatia students attended the Virtual ESD Conference organized by ICHRIE’s Eta Sigma Delta hospitality honorary society. This conference is the first in a series of planned virtual conferences to be delivered monthly during the academic year 2021/2022.

This two-hour virtual conference focused on the topic of continuing studies with three schools sharing their graduate options: Technological University Dublin, University of Delaware and University of North Texas.

The conference continued with two keynote speakers each addressing the topics of reinventing the industry and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Chef Ype Von Hengst, the first keynote speaker, is a co-founder and executive chef of Silver Diner and Silver New American Brasserie, a group of 17 restaurants located primarily in the Washington, D.C. region. Von Hengst has received many accolades for his creative, healthier menu items that use fresh and local products—especially his expanded kids’ menu. The Silver Diner Kids Menu has received national acclaim and has been a model that has been studied and reported on by Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in partnership with ChildObesity 180. Several top tier medical journals have run the Tufts study results on the benefits of Silver Diner’s Kids menu in influencing healthy eating. Chef Ype spoke about the importance of sustainability and responsibility when it comes to the hospitality industry’s future. 

Brian Barker, the second keynote speaker, focused his presentation on diversity, equity and inclusion within the hospitality industry. He has recently been appointed the first endowed Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) professor of FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. The new position is a part of the school's ongoing commitment to DEI within its curriculum and addressing inequities in the hospitality industry. In his new role, Barker is focused on development of DEI curriculum and content, expansion of the mentoring program, establishing Chaplin School as a resource for DEI and change in the hospitality industry, and building and leading a multi-institutional alliance. The alliance is a bold, new initiative among higher learning institutions, industry associations and top hospitality brands to address gaps and create pathways for Black, Hispanic, Women and underrepresented talent in hospitality management.

RIT Croatia ESD members who attended the conference were Leona Sentić, Katija Vuličević, Jelena Muštra, Nikolina Jerkić and Nikolina Herceg, accompanied by Milena Kužnin, who is the faculty adviser for ESD chapter of RIT Croatia.

"The purpose of ESD as a society is to develop young hospitality experts and make them ready to face the challenges of this demanding industry. These conferences are just one of the ways how we do it: ESD members have an exclusive access to hear the hospitality leaders and learn about the best new industry standards and demands” said Milena Kužnin.

Katija Vuličević, one of the students attending the conference, was especially impressed by the presentation about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion= BELONGING. "I think it presented a complete perspective of Ethics -the sixth pillar of Eta Sigma Delta. In addition to that, I loved the chef's presentation as well; it was exquisite to see how passionate they still are about the business that has been going on for 30 years, and how well they adapted to the changes occurring during that long period”, commented Katija.


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