Saint Martin’s University announces celebrity chef Pati Jinich as host of Gala 2024

Pati Jinich stands at a counter laden with cooking implements, with her kitchen windows behind

LACEY, Wash. – Saint Martin’s University has announced that the 2024 Saint Martin’s Gala will feature celebrity chef host Pati Jinich, an acclaimed cookbook author, television personality and culinary educator. The Saint Martin’s Gala is the University’s annual signature fundraising event for student scholarships, which raised more than $2 million in 2023.

“We are excited to welcome Pati Jinich to campus as our celebrity chef for this year’s Gala,” said Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D., interim co-president of Saint Martin’s University. “The purpose of the Gala has remained true after 15 years: To engage hundreds of our alumni and friends to learn about the transformative experience of a Saint Martin’s education and to raise scholarship funds to make that experience a possibility for countless students today and into the future.” 

Born and raised in Mexico City, Pati Jinich comes from a family of accomplished cooks and, in her own words, “food maniacs.” Chef Pati’s infectious enthusiasm for food shines through in her every endeavor. Her culinary expertise is rooted in the rich tapestry of her cultural heritage, steeping every dish in authenticity, creativity and Mexican flair. 

Chef Pati is host of the three-time James Beard Award-winning PBS television series “Pati’s Mexican Table” where she invites viewers into her kitchen, sharing cherished family recipes, culinary secrets and heartwarming stories that celebrate the vibrant history of Mexican cuisine.  Chef Pati also hosts PBS primetime docuseries “La Frontera,” and is the resident chef at the Mexican Cultural Institute in Washington, D.C. 

“Inspired by the Benedictine principles of hospitality, stewardship and community, the Gala becomes a celebration of shared values and commitment to service,” said Fr. Kilian Malvey, O.S.B., interim co-president. “I am certain that Chef Pati Jinich will help us reach new heights of success for the Gala and for our students.” 

Pivoting from a career as a political analyst, Chef Pati swapped policy papers for pots and pans to make exploring and sharing Mexico’s cuisine her life’s work. Notably, she cooked at the White House for President Obama’s Cinco de Mayo celebration and has been recognized by the Council of the Americas and the National Immigration Forum for her efforts in bridging cultural divides and advocating for immigrants in the United States. She was also named one of the National Immigration Forum’s “Keepers of the American Dream,” a distinguished honor reserved for individuals who exemplify the spirit of immigrant achievement and actively enhance the well-being of immigrants in the U.S. 

With Chef Pati's infectious energy and unwavering dedication to authenticity, the Saint Martin’s 2024 Gala promises to be as exhilarating as it is delicious. 

“After 15 years, the Saint Martin’s Gala continues to raise critical scholarship funds for countless students,” said Nate Peters, interim vice president of Institutional Advancement and vice president of Marketing and Communications. “Scholarships embody the essence of our mission, fostering a community where every student, regardless of background, has the opportunity to thrive. We hope you will join us!” 

The Saint Martin's Gala, which will be held on Saturday, November 2, in the Hal and Inge Marcus Pavilion on Saint Martin’s main campus in Lacey, is the University’s signature fundraising event for student scholarships. Over the years, the black-tie affair has grown to be the premier culinary event in the South Sound region, featuring a live auction, a five-course gourmet dinner, and on-stage cooking demonstrations by celebrity chefs. Previous featured chefs have included Tom Douglas, Dario Cecchini, Roy Breiman, Anne Burrell, Jacques Pépin, Carla Hall and Roy Yamaguchi. 

Learn more about Gala 2024 by visiting or by contacting the Saint Martin’s University Office of Institutional Advancement at 360-438-4366 or

About Saint Martin’s University   

Saint Martin’s University is an independent coeducational university, with undergraduate and graduate offerings, located on a wooded campus of more than 380 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 13 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University empowers students to pursue a lifetime of learning and accomplishment through its 31 majors, 11 master’s programs, one doctorate program and seven certificate programs spanning the arts and sciences, business, counseling, education, engineering, nursing, and leadership. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,300 undergraduate students and 250 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and more students to its extended campus located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 


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