Mario Batali cooks up a smash-hit Gala for Saint Martin’s

November 9, 2011

Lacey, Washington — Saint Martin’s University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., reported today that the University’s sixth annual Gala, held Saturday, Nov. 5, was a record-breaking success.

Mario BataliThe Gala, which featured celebrity chef Mario Batali and special guest emcee Lynne Rossetto Kasper, attracted more than 500 guests and raised more than $550,000, making the event one of the largest-grossing charity events in the South Sound. A high point of the evening came during the Feed-a-Mind auction, when guests “raised their paddle” to make a gift toward student scholarship funds. This portion of the program raised in excess of $155,000—more than triple the amount raised last year.

Guests were particularly moved by remarks from Jonathon Hew-Len, a Saint Martin’s senior who currently serves as president of the University’s student government. His description of his personal “Saint Martin’s experience” brought the audience to their feet, and inspired Batali himself to contribute $15,000 to the cause.

“We couldn’t be prouder of our students,” said Heynderickx. “Their volunteer efforts throughout the day allowed us to showcase the very best of Saint Martin’s hospitality.”

For Batali’s visit to campus, the Saint Martin’s community decked itself out in orange, Batali’s favorite color. Sporting his signature orange crocs, Batali made his way across the campus that his father, Armandino Batali ’59, called home 50-some years ago. During a University tour, Batali and his staff took time to stop in the residence halls, where they were welcomed with signage announcing, “Saints go orange for our man Mario.” In addition to chatting with students in the residence halls, the celebrity chef also spent time with 50 Saints at a special reception in the Trautman Student Union Building, and encouraged the students to dedicate one year of their post-graduation life to serving others.

In the afternoon, Batali mixed and mingled with a limited number of guests at “Meet the Chef,” held at O’Grady Library. Attendees received an autographed copy of the chef’s brand-new cookbook, Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours, and enjoyed the opportunity to connect with Batali one-on-one. A separate private reception was held just prior to the Gala, where Heynderickx presented Batali with a locally crafted gift—a carbon-steel culinary knife forged by renowned knife-maker and Olympia resident Bob Kramer.

Mario's signature vespaThe day culminated with the Gala itself, which kicked off with Batali’s grand entrance into Marcus Pavilion on a silver Vespa. The Vespa, autographed by the chef, was auctioned off later in the evening. The Gala program featured an entertaining culinary demonstration with Batali and Rossetto Kasper, accompanied by a five-course dinner, wine pairings (specially selected by Olympia’s Olympic Wine Merchant owner Patrick Hub) and an exciting live auction. Working closely with Rossetto Kasper, auctioneer Jeff Stokes of Stokes Auction Group added his own pizzazz to the evening program.

“Here at Saint Martin’s, we embrace a 116-year tradition of honoring Benedictine values,” explained Heynderickx. “Among those values are hospitality, community and stewardship. We couldn’t imagine a better representation of these values than Lynne, Mario and the Batali family.

For the first time in the event’s history, the Gala was held on the Saint Martin’s campus. “We were delighted to open our doors to guests and welcome them into the Norman Worthington Conference Center and the Hal and Inge Marcus Pavilion,” said Saint Martin’s Board of Trustees Chair A. Richard “Rick” Panowicz. “Both spaces were transformed for the splendid affair.”

Yesterday, on the ABC daytime talk show, The Chew, Batali called his visit to Saint Martin’s University part of a “million-dollar weekend.”

The co-chairs for the 2011 Gala were Dick ’64 and Karen Roney and Mario’s parents, Armandino ’59 and Marilyn Batali. At the Gala, Roney and Batali thanked “longtime friends and sponsors, whose loyalty both inspires and humbles us; brand-new supporters, whose newfound interest in Saint Martin’s energizes us; and first-time visitors, whose presence we embrace with much enthusiasm.”

Saint Martin’s University thanks the Gala Event Sponsors: Berschauer Phillips, America’s Credit Union, Brian Charneski and A. Richard Panowicz, Kathleen O’Grady, Saint Martin’s Class of '59, Rice Fergus Miller Architecture and Planning and Sur La Table. The University also thanks the Gala Table Sponsors and In-kind sponsors, many of whom have supported Gala every year since its inception.

Next year’s Gala is scheduled to take place Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, at Marcus Pavilion. The focus of the event will again be food and wine. The 2011 Gala sold out by spring; those interested in attending the 2012 Gala are encouraged to check Saint Martin’s website,, frequently for updates on next year’s celebration.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a 380-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Everett College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

For more information:

Jennifer Fellinger
Vice president for marketing and communications
Saint Martin’s University