Cleveland chef to speak at annual Schwebel Lecture

Endya Watson

The Hospitality Management Program will host its 17th annual Schwebel Lecture this Thursday in Oscar Richie Hall.

The lecture has featured speakers ranging from local restaurant owners to a White House chef. For this year’s lecture, Cleveland chef Rocco Whalen will speak and give a food demonstration.

Whalen is known for appearing on the Food Network series “Fat Chef” in 2012. He currently owns six restaurants in Cleveland named Fahrenheit and recently opened a seventh location in Charlotte, N.C.  

Whalen said his lecture will cover a variety of topics.  

“I’ll be talking about my story, why cooking is so important and the jobs it can create,” Whalen said. “The culinary arts field is really growing; I want people to realize that and not be afraid to pursue it.”

Beyond culinary arts and the hospitality management field, Whalen said the lecture will include his thoughts on finding a passion in life.

“I like to have candid conversation about life, liberty and the pursuit of dreams,” Whalen said. “There’s passion exuding from anyone’s reality. I want to emphasize that we all just need to find that passion.”

Swathi Ravichandran, program coordinator for hospitality management, organized the event. She said the decision to bring Whalen in as this year’s speaker was an easy one.

“We like to bring someone impactful, well known and mostly who has an interesting story to tell and can keep a captive audience,” Ravichandran said. “Rocco really fit all those criteria well.”

Ravichandran said she would encourage any student to come to the lecture, especially those looking to start a business.

“He’s [Whalen] accomplished a lot with his business in a short amount of time, and what’s nice for students to hear is that it’s possible,” Ravichandran said. “I think he’ll be a great inspiration to those want-to-be entrepreneurs.”

Barbara Scheule, associate professor of hospitality management, added that Whalen’s lecture will also appeal to students of other majors.

“It’ll be exciting to hear from someone who’s creative, inspired and has done many different kinds of things in his work,” Scheule said. “Many of our speakers, including him, have an inspirational story that anyone can take from.”

Ravichandran said she also feels that Whalen will appeal to a broad audience because of his message.

“He’s going to talk about qualities that anyone needs to be successful in life,” Ravichandran said. “We learn from the accomplishments of others and the mistakes of others, so hearing a story like his is going to be a learning experience for anyone.”


Whalen will speak in the Oscar Richie Hall Theater at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday. His lecture will be followed by a food demonstration in room 250 of Oscar Richie Hall.

Contact Endya Watson at [email protected].