Photo of the crowd at Gala International: China
November 7, 2017

Saint Martin's announces that more than 560 friends and alumni helped raise $1.2 million for student scholarships at Gala International: China, hosted by celebrity chef Ming Tsai. 

LACEY, Wash. – On Nov. 4, more than 560 friends and alumni helped Saint Martin’s University raise $1.2 million for student scholarships at the Saint Martin’s Gala, held on the University’s Lacey campus. This year’s Gala featured James Beard-award winning chef Ming Tsai, host of “Simply Ming” on PBS and owner of the Blue Dragon, a tapas-style restaurant in Boston. Tsai’s winning personality and entertaining banter inspired the guests to raise the $1.2 million figure in support of student scholarships.

The black-tie celebration was the twelfth Gala, the University’s annual signature fund-raising event, and the second with an international theme: China. As University President Roy F. Heynderickx explained, “This year’s Gala highlights the wonderful 20-year relationship that the University has fostered with its sister universities in Beijing, Shanghai and Inner Mongolia.”

At the start of the festivities, the Olympia Kung-Fu and Tai Chi Club performed a lion dance, a traditional dance in Chinese culture that brings good luck and fortune, and, with student volunteers and flight attendants from Hainan Airlines and Alaska Airlines, ushered Tsai into Marcus Pavilion.

Throughout the evening, Tsai 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, Tsai chose dishes inspired by his travels in China and his own East-meets-West culinary philosophy. The menu included tea-smoked salmon and crab lemongrass tartlets with avocado lemon puree, cold miso-shallot shrimp frisée salad and sesame chicken cucumber noodle salad, red roast duck legs with sweet potatoes and daikon served with rice, orange-ginger lamb shanks with barley, and, for dessert, bittersweet flourless chocolate cake with cardamom cream and passion fruit coulis. Each course was paired with specialty wines from Maryhill Winery.

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

As in years past, Saint Martin’s students played a major role in the event. Sancha Elevado, who graduated in 2012 with a degree in accounting and a minor in religious studies, expressed her gratitude for the tremendous financial assistance she received through scholarships. “Thank you for believing in the Saint Martin’s mission and especially Saint Martin’s students,” said Elevado. “Your actions change lives – the lives of the young men and women in this room, and the lives of thousands of future Saints who will have a chance to embrace a Saint Martin’s education and positively impact their world.”

Moved by her remarks, guests raised $500,000 toward the University’s “Feed-a-Mind” scholarship funds.

Earlier that day, Tsai arrived at Trautman Student Union Building for a meet-and-greet event with 35 students. He shared stories of how he became a chef, what he loves most about cooking, and why he thinks higher education is important. “Higher education opens doors,” Tsai said. “Students like you are realizing that there are things you can do that you love and that will leave the world a better place. If you have that opportunity, take advantage of it.”

The chairs for the 2017 Saint Martin’s Gala were Armandino Batali ‘59, Rick Panowicz and Waite Dalrymple ‘65.

More than 160 members of the Saint Martin’s community—including students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends—served as volunteers for the Gala.

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.

At the end of the evening, Saint Martin’s revealed the theme and chef for next year’s Gala. The 2018 Gala, set for Saturday, Nov. 3, will feature chef Roy Yamaguchi and will highlight the University’s long history with Hawaii and the Pacific Islands. For more information about Gala International 2018, visit our Gala website,



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

Presenting Sponsor: Bon Appétit

Travel and Entertainment Sponsor: Alaska Airlines

Travel and Entertainment Sponsor: Hainan Airlines

Broadcast Media Sponsor: KCTS9

Gala Reception Sponsor: WSECU

Print Sponsor: Capitol City Press

Wine Sponsor: Maryhill Winery

Celebrity Photo Sponsor: Anchor Bank

Coffee Sponsor: Caffé Vita

Green Room Sponsor: Maumasi Fire Arts

Hospitality Sponsor: Columbia Hospitality

Gala Kitchen Sponsor: Rob Rice Homes

Live Auction Sponsor: Chicago Title Company of Washington

Print Media Sponsor: Showcase Magazine

Silent Auction Sponsor: Hanson Subaru

Student Reception Sponsor: Metropolitan Market

Shellfish Sponsor: Taylor Shellfish Farms

Saint Martin's Table Patrons: FORMA Construction; Terry ’62 and Mary Louise ’60 Monaghan; Joe and Liz Williams

Saint Benedict Table Patrons: ACU/America’s Credit Union; Waite ’65 and Patty Dalrymple; Barbara ’78 and Doug Hiatt, Perfectly Posh; Jay and Carla Rudd; Sunset Air

Saint Gertrude Table Sponsors: Armandino ’59 and Marilyn Batali; Armour Vickerman; Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty; Dennis ’69 and Tedi ’71 Reynolds; Diamond Technologies/Jernigan Foundation; Great Western Supply; John and Michelle Riel; Kathleen O’Grady; Kathy and Gordon Beecher; Max and Margi Harned; MJR Development; Olympia Federal Savings; Olympia Tumwater Foundation; Pat and Helen Rants; Port Blakely Tree Farms/Taylor Shellfish Farms; Propel Insurance/Moss Adams LLP; Providence Health and Services, Southwest WA; Rich and Pam Panowicz; Saint Martin’s Alumni Association; SCJ Alliance; South Puget Sound Community College; Timberland Bank; TwinStar Credit Union; U.S. Bank; Waite ’65 and Patty Dalrymple; Wilcox Family Farms

Additional generous contributions were made by the following partners: Batdorf & Bronson Coffee Roaster; Barb Hiatt, Oh My Posh, Barb; Essentia Water, LLC; L &E Bottling; Lucky Eagle Casino; Miss Moffett’s Mystical Cupcakes; Ron Chow, Co-Chair, Washington State Panda Foundation; Shangri-La Hotels; Taylor Shellfish Farms

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 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 25 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 340 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
360-438-4332; 360-593-5305;

Kevin Hyde
Media Relations Manager