After meeting Jen Lasko at Firelands Winery in Sandusky, Ohio for the first time, it was clear she enjoys her career and holds in the highest regard the time she spent in the Terra State Community College Hospitality Program. Even though she had been in the hospitality management business for fifteen years and held some respectable positions in the area, Lasko decided to enroll at Terra State in the fall of 2014 to start on her degree, emphasizing it was a wise decision for her. As she attended classes, she applied aspects learned in them directly to her work experience. She found the subjects on the lodging part of the business particularly helpful, as well as the planning/budget courses, the leadership class and the culinary classes. In particular, she earned a Level I certification in culinary, as well as, a ServSafe certification, which is food and beverage safety training required by the State of Ohio. She also recalled an “honored” experience where she and other Terra State students prepared and served a dinner at the Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont under the direction of the former chef in the Clinton White House.
Lasko considers these experiences and her degree as “priceless” in regards to the doors it opened for her in the hospitality field. Presently, she is the Events Manager at the Osteria Gusto Exposition Kitchen that is part of Firelands Winery. This is an exposition and demonstration type kitchen, where national and international chefs put on cooking demonstrations with a theatrical aspect for customers. The kitchen has televisions, cameras and microphones to capture the chefs at work as they prepare the meals directly in front of the guests. These exposition events range in themes from Jazz and Jambalaya to Murder Mysteries to private events. Especially for private events, Lasko sees these as monumental events for her clients, making sure these make lasting impressions and memories for them. She caters to everything to the client’s wishes, creating the ambience a client is looking for in an “authentic and traditional Italian celebration style,” and always following the motto of owner Claudio Salvador, “where wine and find foods meet” to inspire her creations.
As for her time at Terra State, Lasko speaks distinctly about her experience. She said John Bermudez, Manager of Dining Services and Culinary Arts, leads you in a “wonderful direction” and is “very responsive” to his students’ wishes. While Meghan Knieriem, Lecturer in Hospitality Management, taught her all the essentials in managing the everyday activities that go along with the business side of her work. Lasko also is positive about the hospitality industry in general and says that people underestimate the industry in north central Ohio. She promotes this career choice by stating, “It’s not just a seasonal business in this area. You can make a career of it. The hospitality industry increases since it is a people-oriented business that can’t be replaced with robots or computers, so it will continue to grow.” Furthermore, she insists on being humble and to keep learning in order to stay strong and committed – one reason she found herself starting college classes in her late thirties. She had no problem going to college later in her career and feels Terra State gave her the opportunity for continued success. Lasko has certainly made the most of it and looks forward to see where else her career takes her.