Hats off to the HAARTS

Hockaday students got to meet four distinguished alumnae through the Hockaday Alumnae in the Arts assembly, better known as HAARTS. This year’s focus was on panelists who work in the culinary arts.

This years’ Hats off to the HAARTS Committee Chair Candace Swango ‘84 oversaw the panelists selection. Members of the HAARTS committee agreed on the culinary arts to be the focus of the event. After narrowing it down, the committee chose to invite Bev Gannon ‘67, Donica Jimenez ‘79, Nikky Phinyawatana ‘96 and Lauren Smith ‘04.

The assembly, which Upper School history teacher Lucio Benedetto moderated, was held at the Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Theater on March 2.

The Panelists

A Maui resident, Bev Gannon is the chef and owner of Hali’imaile General Store and two restaurants: Gannon’s and Joe’s Bar and Grill. She also began the Hawaii Regional Cuisine Movement, which emphasizes the use of fresh ingredients that are local to Maui.

Like Gannon, Donica Folse Jimenez decided to focus on mastering one type of cuisine. Interested in the Spanish language and culture from an early age, Folse Jimenez decided to follow her passion and open up Cafe Madrid, a Spanish restaurant in the heart of Dallas. Some of her most popular dishes are the Spanish omelette and cheese and spinach croquettes. “The tortilla Española is our top-selling dish, and I have someone who just makes the tortillas fresh everyday,” Jimenez said.

Asian Mint, founded by Nikky Phinyawatana ‘96, is a popular Dallas restaurant often frequented by Hockaday students. After graduating from Hockaday, Phinyawatana went on to Babson College, where she studied entrepreneurial studies and marketing. At the assembly, she stressed that she dabbled in multiple areas and that her path to her career was not linear. “I thought I wanted to open up a dessert bar because I was interested in pastry, but eventually decided to inspire others through innovative Asian cuisine,” Phinyawatana said.

Alumna Lauren Smith ‘04 philanthropic spirit led her to found ONDA, an innovative brand of packaged food product.  ONDA, which translates to “wave” in Spanishas,  helps improve women’s livelihoods by increasing their asset ownership and management roles.

Regardless of what branch of culinary cuisine they identified with, the four panelists acknowledged Hockaday for instilling them with a sense of fearlessness, a quality essential to thriving in the restaurant industry.

“The idea of failure never crossed my mind,” Jimenez said. “I never thought about what would happen if this didn’t work,” she said.

Gannon agreed, and emphasized the strength of the friendships and connections made at Hockaday.

“Even though I don’t live close to them anymore, the friends you make at Hockaday will last you for the rest of your life,” Gannon said.


– Eshani Kishore – Features Editor –

Eshani Kishore

Eshani is a senior, and as Features Editor, loves bringing Hockaday community members' stories to life! She has an unhealthy obsession with coffee, Grey's Anatomy, cooking, and competitive napping. Other hobbies include correcting people's grammar and spinning.

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