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Students chow down over break for new class on BBQ, Texas wine


HRM students studied BBQ and Texas wine over spring break thanks to a special new class. One of the restaurants students visited included Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, Texas. | Courtesy of Matthew Bauman.

Not all students headed for the beach this spring break — one group spent its week-long vacation in Texas Hill Country studying wine and cuisine.

These students are the first to take “Texas Food and Wine Experience,” which was first offered in spring 2016. The course, part of the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, asks students to keep a log of their experiences and submit essays demonstrating their understanding of how food and wine aid Texas’ fruitful hospitality business.

Associate professor Jay Neal said the idea for the trip began with assistant professor Chris Taylor, who approached Neal in June after eating lunch at Killen’s Barbecue in Pearland.

“How could I refuse?” Neal said. “It seemed like a natural fit and great partnership because I enjoy spending time with Dr. Taylor.”

Neal said students had to meet certain criteria to go on the trip, including completing more than 40 contact hours and reading two books on BBQ and Texas wine.

“Students had to apply and be interviewed based on their career goals, specifically wanting to manage restaurants or the wine industry or regional tourism,” Neal said.

Neal said students should consider taking the class because of the knowledge that could be learned from Texas food and wine, a trending cuisine in food culture.

“Texas barbecue is one of the hottest cuisines worldwide,” Neal said. “Students can get a firsthand experience with not only how Texas wines are made and taste but also how it can effect the bottom line in terms of profitability and preference in their restaurants after they graduate.”

HRM senior Brandon King said he would suggest the trip to students who want a look at the Texas food industry and are interested in joining the industry.

“I learned a lot on the trip, including the differences in the thriving Texas barbecue industry from one place to another and how small differences in cooking method, seasoning and other factors can really affect the flavor of barbecue,” King said.

HRM senior Taylor Jakovich said the trip gave valuable personal insight into the food and wine industry that he said he plans on joining.

“The trip really showed us many applications of what we’ve been learning throughout our time at the Hilton school,” Jakovich said. “It’s been a trip in which I’ve been able to apply a lot of the information we’ve learned in the classroom.”

Neal said the ultimate goal of the trip is to give students a clearer representation of the Texas food and wine industry.

“We expect them to get a better picture of the barbecue industry and wineries,” Neal said. “They will be able to visualize wine production and tasting room operations and management. As the tourism industry continues to grow in Fredericksburg, we want our students to consider this as a viable career opportunity.”

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