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Bits and Bites Honors El Centro’s ‘Founding Father’ of Food

photo of Gus Katsigris

The founding father of food at El Centro College, C. Gus Katsigris, is on the menu March 30 – not to be grilled in a celebrity “roast” but to be honored for his contributions to the Dallas restaurant scene and culinary education for more than 40 years.

Katsigris, whose roots are in Greece and whose heart is in Dallas, has been a teacher, mentor, restaurateur, chef and even a gastronomic Greek tour guide. His advice is sought by many – and so are his successful students, whose talents attract diners from across the metroplex to area eateries.

A chef in almost every Dallas kitchen has been trained through the El Centro College Food and Hospitality Institute. Katsigris led the way, rebuilding the program in the 1970s until he “retired” several years ago. “Retired” (as professor emeritus) means that he still has an office on campus, answers his email day and night, recreated a “Vines and Wines” course last year (and wrote a new textbook for it), checks on student-run dining services each week during any given semester and still finds time to be involved with the institute’s Exes alumni group as well as the Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, the Texas Restaurant Association and other organizations.

Raising Spirits, Raising Funds

“Bits and Bites” of spirits, sweets and savory things are the highlight of the aptly titled annual event at El Centro College on Sunday, March 30. Area chefs will lend their hands and their talents to raise funds for ECC’s culinary arts program as they honor Katsigris. Those funds will help the college expand its kitchen facilities and services.

The evening’s festivities will feature foods prepared by El Centro’s former students and friends of the college; a variety of spirits will be served. The cost is $45 in advance and $50 at the door; the event will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. in the Student Center on the downtown Dallas campus of El Centro College, 801 Main St.

Buy tickets in advance online or at the cashier’s office on the second floor of the A Building on campus. Purchase tickets by mail with checks made payable to "DCCCD Foundation" and send them to: El Centro College, Cindy Bozzelli-Duke, Business and Public Services, 801 Main St., Dallas TX  75202.

A Lineup of Accomplished Chefs

More than 150 accomplished chefs in the Dallas area received their formal training at the Food and Hospitality Institute at El Centro College. Katsigris has helped train and advise almost every one of them, including Chad Houser at Café Momentum; Dunia Borga of LaDuni Restaurants; Marc Cassel of 20 Feet Seafood Joint and formerly of The Green Room; Randall Copeland of Restaurant Ava and Boulevardier; Richard Chamberlain of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House and Chamberlain’s Fish Market Grill, among many stellar chefs who are graduates of the program, which Katsigris created with Dr. Frances Hitt in 1970.

“Every year, ‘Bits and Bites’ honors individuals who have made significant contributions to the program at El Centro College and to the hospitality industry. Gus Katsigris, this year’s honoree, truly is ‘one of our own’,” said Jessie Yearwood, nutrition faculty member for El Centro’s culinary arts program. “Our alumni are accomplished -- they work in every successful kitchen, banquet hall and dining room in North Texas. They also are excited to honor the man who helped inspire them to pursue a career where they can be successful and contribute to their communities, too.”

For information, contact Cindy Bozelli-Duke by phone at 214-860-2213 or by email at bo-duke@dcccd.edu.