Aug 3, 2023

FTCC Students Get Basic Training from OVG Hospitality - Crown Complex Employees at 2023 AUSA Warfighter Summit & Exposition

While thousands of soldiers and defense industry professionals gathered at the Crown Expo for the 2023 AUSA Warfighter Summit & Exposition, a two-day leadership and professional development event held on July 26 and 27th, a smaller skirmish was taking place behind the scenes. As often happens in the kitchen, Oak View Group Hospitality staff behind the scenes at the Crown were facing the enemy of chefs everywhere – time. Luckily, reinforcements had been called in and six students from local community college, Fayetteville Technical Community College’s, culinary arts program were geared up and ready to help win the day. 

If you’re hoping to learn how to feed a crowd, 900 hungry soldiers and defense professionals' dinner might seem like an intimidating place to start, but Angel Odom, Danielle Locklear, Devonia Walker, Gabriel Jess, Jocelyn Wilson, and Philip Poquette charged in with spatulas at the ready. It helped that they were led by the OVG Hospitality - Crown Complex’s fearless Executive Chef, Michael Gadson.  

Gadson joined the OVG Hospitality team at the Crown Complex in March of 2023 and immediately brought elevated flavors and flair to the culinary offerings at Crown events. Now his leadership extends to the community with the new partnership he helped create with FTCC. 

“Giving students the opportunity to get into the kitchen at the Crown and work on a big event like the AUSA Expo means they’ll be more prepared for their future careers and gives us a chance to train the next generation of culinary professionals.” Gadson said. 

Over two days, the students helped Oak View Hospitality dish up 2,400 servings of everything from mini burgers and fresh fruit to freshly grilled chicken skewers and made-to-order pasta dishes. 

“We’re so proud of the work they did. They made a big difference and we can’t wait to keep working with FTCC. It’s great because they gain experience while we get the extra hands we need in the kitchen.” Natalie Maddox, OVG Hospitality - Crown Complex Banquet Manager, said of working with the students. 

The partnership has proven to be a win-win for FTCC and OVG Hospitality - Crown Complex. When they face their next adversary, be it dull knives or a fallen souffle, the students can remember what they learned from the seasoned culinary veterans of the Crown Complex.

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