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Restaurateur mentors next generation of hospitality experts

Janet Kiplinger Ciccone
December 04, 2013

Entrepreneur Cameron Mitchell teaches compassion, hospitality management

A chocolate martini spiced with cinnamon and a hint of chili pepper.

A Stone Fruit cosmopolitan rich with the flavor of cherries, peaches and apricots.

Derek Bush concocted these enticing cocktails on the job at Cap City Diner in Columbus. He invents new drink recipes several times a year and is grateful for a management job that encourages his creativity.

He’s also grateful for the scholarship he received from Cameron Mitchell, the owner of Cap City and the other 18 Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. Because while Bush builds a career at the upscale diner, he is also paying his way through a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management.

A native of Cincinnati, Bush began his career by becoming a certified chef after high school. Time in the industry taught him he wanted to go beyond the kitchen.  He is now focused on learning all there is to know about food and beverage, as well as management--in short, the entire hospitality management operation.

He considers the scholarship both a benefit and a reward.  “It relieves the stress of paying for books and tuition,” he said. “It’s also an honor to receive a scholarship from such a prestigious gentleman as Mr. Mitchell. It’s a reward for hard work as well as recognition of the skills you have and the effort you’ve put into the industry.  I love this company.”

Why the owner of 19 restaurants pays it forward

“I remember the financial stress of being a student,” Mitchell said. “It was hard to make ends meet and get through school.”

Yet from the time he first washed dishes in a restaurant kitchen at 18, Mitchell fell in love with the business of delivering genuine hospitality. Today, he makes it his goal to take care of people.

That’s why Mitchell recently made a gift to the college to fund scholarships for three Hospitality Management students:  Bush, Melissa Myers and Alexandra Carsonie.

“I’ve been blessed with some success,” Mitchell said. “I want to share that by paying it forward and helping the folks coming up behind me, to ease their burden.”

Bush connected to his current job when he was mentored for a semester by David Miller, executive vice president of Cameron Mitchell Restaurants and past president of the college’s Hospitality Management Advisory Board.

Carsonie, from Columbus, had a career goal of working in the catering business. She began as an intern at Cameron Mitchell Premier Events during the very busy Memorial Tournament held each spring at Muirfield Village Golf Club. She has been with the caterer ever since and looks forward to becoming full time after graduation.

Myers brought her passion for food and people with her to Columbus from her hometown of Toledo. She also worked for Cameron Mitchell Premier Events during the spring Memorial Tournament.  Afterward, she contacted the general manager of another Mitchell restaurant and has worked there ever since. She loves her role as a hostess at Martini Modern Italian.

Mitchell, who is about to enter his 34th year in the hospitality business, said the experience is fun and he doesn’t want it to end. He also remembers, despite how far he’s come, “We were all students once.”

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