June 11, 2014 by Amanda Bradford, NMSU News Center
Chef Maurice Zeck, a college assistant professor in the New Mexico State University School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management, has a long list of professional awards to his name, ranging from the American Culinary Federation President’s Medal for Service to the Industry to the New Mexico Restaurant Association Chef of the Year.
But another award he recently received still came as a very pleasant surprise to Zeck, because it came not from his peers in the restaurant industry, but from some of the students he’s helped support in their efforts to compete on the national stage.
The student marketing competition team of the NMSU chapter of the National Agri-Marketing Association nominated Zeck for the national Outstanding Professional award, given each year to recognize a professional involved with a NAMA student chapter who goes above and beyond to improve the quality of the students’ experience in the program.
Zeck was selected from more than 30 nominees to receive this year’s award, accepted on his behalf by the team’s faculty adviser, Chadelle Robinson, at NAMA’s national Agri-Marketing Conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
The marketing competition team fared well at the national conference, earning a Chapter Performance Award for their chapter communications and placing in the top 10 teams for their annual report.
Jeremy Witte, NMSU NAMA president, said Zeck has provided the team and the club with insight into food service and retail environments throughout the Southwest, often leveraging his industry connections to help the students raise funds for travel and competition expenses.
“Without these essential connections within the food service industry, many of our past projects would have never developed,” Witte said. “Chef has made the NAMA marketing team successful. His sincere guidance has made the difference for many students.”
Zeck was a member of the team himself during his undergraduate study, and stayed on to help with their fundraising projects – especially an annual golf tournament that helped fund travel and other expenses.
“I was truly surprised to be nominated and even more so to have received the award,” Zeck said. “We bring these young people in from farms and ranches and teach them to articulate their thoughts and ideas, both orally and written. What could be better? They usually see more of the world than they could ever see from the farm and they indeed learn that we live in a wider world.”
Robinson, the team’s adviser, praised Zeck’s contribution to her team’s success.
“The students who’ve worked with Chef were excited to nominate him for all his help with their golf tournament and marketing plan projects,” she said.
Prior to joining the NMSU faculty, Zeck was the corporate executive chef and business development manager for Sysco Food Service of New Mexico. He is a distinguished member of the American Culinary Federation, serves on the executive board of the New Mexico Restaurant Association, and is a member of the New Mexico Lodgers Association.