New faculty at Wroxton College — An interview with Sarkis Nehme

Sarkis NehmeAugust 24, 2017 — For the first time, starting in the Spring 2018 semester, students can earn an M.S. in hospitality management studies at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Wroxton College in Oxfordshire, England. Leading the degree program overseas is Sarkis Nehme, program coordinator and senior lecturer in hospitality.

Originally hailing from Lebanon, Nehme brings two decades of experience in the food and beverage field. Starting as a pastry chef, he worked his way up the ranks to serve as head chef at several restaurants in Lebanon and Germany before moving into academia. He holds master’s degrees in hotel and tourism management and is a Ph.D. candidate in food sustainability at Brandenburg University of Technology in Germany.

For the spring semester, he’ll be teaching Hospitality Operations Management and Research Methodology I.

FDU: What brings you to FDU?

Sarkis Nehme: I was attracted by the unique model that FDU brings to the U.K. — an American degree offered at an exceptionally beautiful, historical manor in England. FDU offered me the chance to work with multinational team members bringing worldwide experiences to one university, operating in three countries: the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, all known as top education destinations.

FDU: Tell us about your new position.

SN: As program coordinator and senior lecturer in FDU’s International School of Hospitality and Tourism Management (ISHTM) at Wroxton College, my job is to help implement and inaugurate our top ranked hospitality master’s program; this includes marketing, recruitment, and coordination. Additionally, as a senior lecturer, I will be helping students to learn about global hospitality, and assisting them in developing their critical thinking, supervising their work, and evaluating their progress.

FDU: How did you become interested in this field?

SN: I grew up in a mountain village in Lebanon, 1,200 meters above sea level. It was famous for its freshwater springs, rich soil and its mild climate. My passion for food started to grow when I still was a child, as I used to help my mother collect vegetables, fruits and herbs to prepare our daily food and to fill our pantry for the winter. We used to make our own bread, cheese, pickles, tomato paste and jams, and to dry figs, tomatoes and wild herbs.

After finishing my school, I decided to study cooking at the hospitality institute, it was there when I started to combine my passion and knowledge with professional techniques; and I became curious about world’s food and the stories behind it all.

FDU: What is something you would like to contribute to FDU?

SN: In a globalized world, it is challenging to preserve culture and traditions as essentials of modern hospitality. Helping future leaders understand the role of these elements in food and hospitality will strengthen their knowledge and decision-making abilities. I bring to FDU my knowledge in sustainable food and hospitality, and my experience in the Middle East and Europe as areas facing global challenges such as climate change, social insecurity, and increasing regulations.

FDU: What is one piece of advice you have for new students?

SN: No matter how many people complain to you about how difficult working in hospitality is, think about it this way: You meet people during their vacations, leisure times or even during weddings, to make it a joyful experience for them. Help them achieve this and become a successful hospitality professional. Whether in a busy kitchen, a fancy reception or on a quiet desk in a closed office, hospitality has a lot to offer that can fit your personality.

FDU: What do you hope that your students will take away from your class?

SN: Students who take my class will develop a critical thinking, and will be able to successfully identify problematic situations and study their multidimensional aspects. This will prepare them to understand global operations easily. In addition, they will have the chance to develop their food-tasting skills when we cook together!