Harvest Celebration 2010: Saluting Hospitality Industry Leaders While Supporting Collins College Students


2010 Alumnus of the Year Michele Gendreau

Cal Poly Pomona’s Collins College of Hospitality Management will honor three exceptional leaders in the hospitality industry on Nov. 13 during Harvest Celebration 2010 while raising funds to support students inside and outside the classroom. The annual gala will take place at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel & Spa at 6:30 p.m.

The Collins College is pleased to announce that Chip Conley, founder and CEO of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, will receive the Hospitality Leader of the Year Award; Steele Platt, chairman and founder of Yard House Restaurants, Inc., will be honored with the Robert Mondavi Wine & Food Award; and Michele Gendreau, director of Food and Beverage for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts, will receive the college’s Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award.

“Chip, Steele and Michele represent an accomplished cross section of the hospitality industry. Chip and Steele are visionary entrepreneurs who have each founded successful companies. Michele’s work helps keep Disney Parks & Resorts on the cutting edge of food and beverage product development,” said Dean Andrew Hale Feinstein. “We are delighted to honor all three for their professional successes.”

Established in 2009 with the inaugural honor going to Disney CFO Jay Rasulo, The Hospitality Leader of the Award pays tribute to a visionary individual or company whose dynamic leadership, innovative achievements, and on-going commitment to excellence have inspired groundbreaking advancements in the hospitality industry.

Chip Conley is the founder and CEO of San Francisco-based Joie de Vivre Hospitality, California’s largest boutique hotel company, which was founded in 1987. At 26 with no industry experience, Conley created The Phoenix, taking a 1950’s seedy motel and turning it into a world-renowned “rock ‘n roll hotel” that catered to celebrities from David Bowie to Linda Ronstadt. Building on transformational leadership practices, and an innovative design formula that enables customers to experience an “identity refreshment,” the company now consists of more than 40 unique and award-winning hotels, restaurants and spas across the state with more than 3,000 employees and revenues approaching $250 million. Conley is an accomplished writer and speaker. His work includes: PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow and The Rebel Rules: Daring to be Yourself in Business.

The Robert Mondavi Wine & Food Award is steeped in tradition at the college. It honors an individual whose vision and leadership skills have advanced the Americanwineandfood industry. In past years, iconoclastic members of the industry including: Julia Child, Robert Mondavi and Alice Waters, received the award.

Steele Platt, chairman and founder of Irvine-based Yard House Restaurants, Inc. is considered both a visionary and industry leader having begun his career more than 30 years ago. He came to California after establishing himself as a restaurateur in Denver. In 1996, he opened the first Yard House in Long Beach. Today, there are now 27 Yard House locations in 10 states. The flagship restaurant in Long Beach has become one of California’s highest sales volume restaurants. With an average of $8.3 million per store, Yard House continues to generate some of the highest unit sales volume in the restaurant industry and has earned numerous awards as a result.

The Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award is given to an alumnus who has excelled in their profession and demonstrates service to the university and community. 

Michele Gendreau is director of Food and Beverage for Walt Disney Parks & Resorts. In this role, she leads the creative development of the novelties, synergy and packaging products for the Food and Beverage department, and integrates standards throughout the 450 various restaurants at both the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando and the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. She is a key partner for the culinary and concept development team to integrate food and beverage products into the two resorts. She has more than 25 years of experience in the food and beverage industry and has been with Disney since 2006. Gendreau regularly supports The Collins College and is a key volunteer for the Cal Poly Rose Float, which is featured each year in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

Guests of Harvest Celebration 2010 will have the opportunity to bid on items that have a direct impact on students, such as scholarships and classroom equipment. The event will also feature a live auction with exclusive hospitality packages.

Tickets are $200 per person. For further information, please contact Joan Wrede at (310) 574-3663 or e-mail jwrede@jwevents.com.

Press inquiries may be directed to Lisa McPheron of The Collins College at (909) 869-3151 or lcmcpheron@cpp.edu. For more information about the college, visit, http://collins.cpp.edu.

About The Collins College – Founded in 1973, The Collins College of Hospitality Management is the first and largest four-year hospitality management degree program in California and the only hospitality management college on the West Coast. More than 850 undergraduate students receive a superior education in the state-of-the-art Collins College facilities, where they learn to apply hospitality management theories and concepts to real-world settings. Part of this unique academic experience includes managing and operating the full-service Restaurant at Kellogg Ranch.


Lisa McPheron
Director of Communications and External Relations
The Collins College of Hospitality Management 
(909) 869-3151 lcmcpheron@cpp.edu