Hospitality program at SUNY Buffalo State prepping students to join industry after graduation


BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)–From the secret to mastering multicultural foods to managing a major hotel, a surprisingly unknown program at SUNY Buffalo State is transforming students and preparing them to join the hospitality industry after graduation — all at a rate, they can barely keep up with.

On Chef Don’s menu on a Monday earlier this month at Buffalo State’s culinary kitchen: A cheesecake custard stuffed cream puff with a chocolate ganache, and a lesson in plating.

That’s a pretty ideal intro to baking, for the more than 20 students — like senior Elizabeth Ogundeko, who donned aprons and stand-up mixers.

“It’s been fun, and it’s been advancing because I’ve learned so many things that my peers or people my age don’t know yet,” Ogundeko said.

Elizabeth enrolled in the college’s hospitality program when she was a freshman, and in all likelihood will have her pick of industry positions when she graduates in December. Just like most of the students in one of the college’s fastest-growing and successful programs.

Culinary Lab Coordinator and Instructor Don Schmitter says, “We work with a lot of companies, but our students are definitely in high demand. The big companies out there, like the Wegman’s, the Rich Products, the Delaware Norths, they’re gobbling up our students as they graduate.”

Buff State’s hospitality and tourism program isn’t new. Chef Don is a graduate and has been an instructor at the college for the past 12 years, but the facility that houses is new.

“Now we have a state of the art facility, with capabilities to handle 24 students at a time in the labs. We also have a studio kitchen up front, and a catering kitchen, So our students can have everything that they possibly need, and a sense of equipment and environment and instruction to be able to become good professionals,” Schmitter said.

“It’s very cool, especially coming from other kitchens that are not as well equipped, and to the high standards that this one is. I think Buff State really sets me up for the business side of things, a lot more than I was getting at the other program that I was at,” Max Schapiro, a senior in the hospitality and tourism department said.

In addition to breaking ground in the kitchen and the classroom, Buff State’s hospitality and tourism department is preparing to break bread with a nationally renown chef and author. Barton Seaver will take the stage at Rockwell Hall on November 14. It’s free to attend, but the hospitality students will be putting on a VIP reception at a cost of $25 a head.

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