Photo of Ahmadou Seck '11, alumnus speaker at Gala 2019, and Carla Hall, celebrity chef host of Gala 2019
November 5, 2019

LACEY, Wash. – On Nov. 2, more than 600 friends and alumni helped Saint Martin’s University raise over $1.4 million for student scholarships at the Saint Martin’s Gala, held on the University’s Lacey campus. This year’s Gala featured celebrity chef host Carla Hall, former co-host of ABC’s Emmy-award-winning show “The Chew” and competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef: All Stars.” Hall’s energetic cooking demonstrations, entertaining banter and spirited involvement with the live auction inspired the guests to raise over $1.4 million in support of student scholarships.

The black-tie celebration was the fourteenth Gala, the University’s annual signature fundraising event. Saint Martin’s University President Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., spoke about the event’s perennial success. “The Gala is a wonderful event and each year it helps the University raise significant funds for student scholarships. It is thanks in part to our donors, sponsors and friends of the University that we can provide exceptional financial support to our students.”

As in years past, Saint Martin’s students played a major role in the event. Ahmadou Seck, who graduated in 2011 with a degree in business administration, spoke about the values he learned at Saint Martin’s before he moved to Los Angeles to become a producer. “The skills I learned at Saint Martin's helped me survive in Los Angeles, and throughout my journey, it was important to be somebody who was a man of integrity, of good character, and humility,” said Seck “I wanted to show people that it's possible to succeed in an industry where people think that you can succeed by doing the opposite.”

Moved by Seck’s remarks, guests raised nearly $645,000 toward the University’s “Feed-a-Mind” scholarship funds.

At the start of the festivities, Saint Martin’s students dressed in chef’s hats escorted Hall to the stage at Marcus Pavilion.

Throughout the evening, Hall offered culinary demonstrations of the five-course gourmet dinner at the stage kitchen, custom-built and donated by Rob Rice Homes. The evening’s program included a live auction and the much-anticipated “Feed-a-Mind” paddle-raise aimed at generating scholarship funds for Saint Martin’s students.

For the menu, Hall chose soul-food inspired dishes, with bold flavors and colors intended to delight the senses. The menu included smashed beet with pistachio oil and chevre, pimento cheese with a buttermilk biscuit cracker, gluten free cornbread, black eyed pea salad with smoked ham and hot sauce vinaigrette, mixed bitter greens with smoked steelhead trout, sea island shrimp and grits, slow braised pork short ribs with pickled red onion smashed potatoes, and, for dessert, pecan pie with bourbon Chantilly cream, paired with Bolivia Buena Vista coffee from Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters. The savory courses were paired with specialty wines from Gala wine sponsors Maryhill Winery and Eola Hills Winery and beer from Gala beer sponsor Top Run Brewing.

Several guests had the opportunity to join Hall on stage, including those whose winning bids landed them on barstools near the stage kitchen.

Earlier that day, Hall arrived at Trautman Student Union Building for a meet-and-greet event with students. She shared stories about her life and career and spoke about what success means to her. “I think success means being happy,” Hall told the students.

The chairs for the 2019 Saint Martin’s Gala are Pat and Helen Rants and Jay and Carla Rudd. The emeritus executive Gala chairs are Armandino ’59 and Marilyn Batali and Rick and Pam Panowicz.

If you were unable to attend the Gala, or would like to make an additional gift, you can still support student scholarships by making a gift online.

To view photos from the event, visit Saint Martin’s Facebook page in the next few days.

The chefs for Gala 2020, to be held on Nov. 7, 2020, will be James Beard Award-winning chef and founder of the French Culinary Institute Jacques Pepin and his daughter Claudine Pepin. As part of the University’s 125th anniversary, Gala 2020 will honor the University’s namesake, Saint Martin of Tours, and his service in France. For more information about Gala 2020, visit our Gala website,


Saint Martin’s University thanks the following Gala Event Sponsors:

Presenting Sponsor: Bon Appétit

Broadcast Media Sponsor: KCTS9

Celebrity Photo Sponsor: Aurora LASIK

Gala Reception Sponsor: WSECU

Hospitality Sponsor: Columbia Hospitality

Print Sponsor: Capitol City Press

Print Media Sponsor: Showcase Magazine

Coffee and Green Room Sponsor: Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roasters

Hors d’oeuvres Sponsor: Anthony’s Homeport Olympia and Taylor Shellfish Farms

Kitchen Sponsor: Rob Rice Homes

Live Auction Sponsor: Chicago Title

Valet and Silent Auction Sponsor: Hanson Subaru

Beer Sponsor: Top Rung Brewing

Beer Glass Sponsor: Sunset Air

Specialty Eyeglass Sponsor: Olympia Vision Clinic

Drawing Sponsor: Panowicz Jewelers

Shellfish Sponsor: Taylor Shellfish Farms

Wine Sponsors: Eola Hills Winery, Maryhill Winery and Reasons Winery

Saint Martin Table Sponsors: FORMA Construction and Joe and Liz Williams

Saint Benedict Table Sponsors: ACU/America’s Credit Union; Capital West Limousines; MJR Development; The Rants Group; and Simmonds Chiropractic

Saint Gertrude Table Sponsors: Armandino ’59 and Marilyn Batali, Kathy and Gordon Beecher, Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty (Ken and Nancy Anderson), Commencement Bay Brokers / Lemon Family Dental, Waite ’65 and Patty Dalrymple, Thomas Dawkins, Diamond Technology Innovations / Jernigan Foundation, Great Western Supply (Dan HS’68 and Carla O’Neill), Grey Ghost, LLC, Heritage Bank, Kathleen O’Grady, Olympia Federal Savings, Olympia Orthopaedic Associates, Panogiotu Pension Advisors, Panorama, Rick and Pam Panowicz, Providence Health and Services, Moss Adams LLP / Propel Insurance, John and Michelle Riel, Saint Martin’s University Nursing Department, Perry ’84 and Susan Shea, South Puget Sound Community College, Sunset Air, Inc. (Brian and Valerie Fluetsch), Thurston County Alumni Chapter, Timberland Bank, Tovani Hart, TwinStar Credit Union, US Bank, Virgil Adams Real Estate

Saint Martin’s University is an independent, four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 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 prepares students for successful lives through its 29 majors, 11 graduate programs and five certificate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. 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.

For additional information:

Office of Institutional Advancement
Saint Martin’s University

Genevieve Canceko Chan
Vice President, Office of Marketing and Communications
Saint Martin’s University

Kevin Hyde
Media Relations Manager