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Vivian Clark of New York, N.Y., obtained a MMH in management in hospitality
Why did you choose Cornell?
Because it is the leader in the hospitality industry, and I wanted to return to my passion for food.
Did any of your beliefs or interests change during your time at Cornell?
Thanks to a course on Sustainable Global Enterprises in Hospitality, I am much more knowledgeable about sustainable practices in hospitality. The restaurant industry is loath to embrace the idea of sustainability since it is difficult to find a successful triple bottom line model. I hope to help restaurants move forward in nutrition, whole foods and sustainability issues by one day developing more obviously profitable models for our industry.
What are your plans for next year; where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In 10 years I want to own my own farm-to-table restaurant in Harlem, N.Y. Next year, I hope to work for a well-organized restaurant group to learn what I'll need for my own restaurant, in one of the areas of whole foods, or in the sustainable food industry.
What Cornell memory do you treasure the most?
My introduction to figure skating class. The course work for a 12-month program is grueling and in the fall I didn't schedule any down time. This semester, no matter how many hours I log in working and studying, I have the figure skating class to look forward to.
After college, what did you do?
I started in a management trainee program for Aramark's Corporate Dining Division, worked as the catering director at Salomon Brothers and then left the company to open a catering business with a partner. The year before we opened, I worked at the Hotel Copthorne Stephanie in Brussels in their catering department and took classes in international cuisine, French and the art of French wines and Belgian beer. Since my partner had been a chef at a celebrity-owned New York City restaurant, we decided to focus on 'celebrity catering,' specifically in the recording industry. For the three and a half years we were in business, I met with potential clients and catered events. It was all fun, fascinating and exciting. Had I known then what I've learned and am learning now in the entrepreneurial classes here at Cornell, we might still be in business! Alas, our business closed, and I spent the next decade working outside of the industry, getting married, having a daughter and studying for a second degree in French literature (including a semester at the Sorbonne) at Hunter College.
Why is your research area important/why are you passionate about it?
Food has always been my passion. My mother was a bona fide 'foodie' who also loved to travel, so I was introduced to food and tastes from all over the world. As I've matured, I've become more interested in healthy cuisine and more concerned with the proliferation of processed foods (or what has been called 'food-like substances'). I hope to one day help Americans reconnect with the joys of real food.
While at Cornell, what extracurricular activities or other accomplishments were important to you or you are most proud of?
Being a part of the New World Agriculture and Ecology Group, connecting with students who are interested in agriculture, farming and sustainable food practices; it has been a great and valuable experience.