Saint Martin’s University is a local landmark in Thurston County, known primarily for it’s beautiful campus and devoted monastic community. With a student body of approximately 1,300 students, Saint Martin’s is dedicated to ensuring students are able to overcome any financial barriers they are faced with. SMU’s annual Gala is the university’s primary event to raise funds for scholarships. The SMU Gala (originally named the President’s Gala) has been held every year since 2006. After being hosted at a few locations off campus, resident Roy Heynderickx was hopeful it would one day reside on campus. In 2011 – his wish was granted.
Armandino Batalli – a trustee and graduate of Saint Martin’s – came up with a great idea: let’s spice things up and invite a chef to cook live on stage for the guests. After we let the idea stew a bit, we knew it would be a hit with the community – and who better to kick off our cook off than Armandino’s son, Mario Batalli. After a bit of preparation, the committee set out to put on the greatest formal dining event in the Pacific Northwest.
With such a big name premiering at our newly crafted event, we knew we needed to concoct the perfect atmosphere for our guests – after all we had a renowned Michelin star rated chef coming to cook for over 500 of our closest friends. The event needed to be “perfecto!” as Mario might say, ‘perfect.’
Our first year we raised a record setting $608k for scholarship funds, and the event was a complete success. In the years since we’ve had renowned chefs from across the world such as Guy Fieri, Roy Yamaguchi, and Ming Tsai cook incredible 5-course meals on our stage. We have hosted the stars of the Food Network show ‘The CHEW’ and have helped to raise over $8.7M simply by sharing an incredible meal with our community.