Golden Nugget Lake Charles and Visit Lake Charles presented SOWELA Technical Community College with a check for $12,500 this week — money raised from Chuck Tastes Restaurant Night, highlighting the event's success. 

In June, Visit Lake Charles hosted the Louisiana Seafood Cook-Off, a culinary competition featuring talented chefs from across the state, along with the Chuck Tastes event, which celebrated the diverse food scene across the Lake Area, and proceeds from ticket sales went to SOWELA's Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality program. Chuck Tastes was held in conjunction with the competition.  

"Anytime the SOWELA Foundation receives donations for our students, it's a great day," expressed Dr. Neil Aspinwall, the college’s chancellor. "Over 95% of the money that we raise or business and industry donates, we give right back to our students for scholarships because we do not participate in the federal student loan program, and we do that to ensure our students graduate with little to no debt. That's why donations like this are vital to our success." 

Fifteen local restaurants participated in the event. The restaurant partners included Luna Bar & Grill, Bodega Wine Dive, Bourbon Street Deli, Paul's Rib Shack, Coffee:30, Chart House, Landry's Seafood House, The Terrace, The Villa Harlequin, Crying Eagle, Southern Spice, The James 710, Restaurant Calla, 121 Artisan Bistro and Insane Sausages.   

"This event was twofold: we were able to showcase the vibrant culinary landscape we offer in Southwest Louisiana and raise funds that will aid in our community's growth through the development of our workforce," said Kyle Edmiston, VLC's president and CEO. "I'm grateful to Golden Nugget and all the restaurants that participated for their commitment to shaping the future of our culinary and hospitality industry." 

The college opened the $10.8 million Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Center earlier this year, the first-of-its-kind in Louisiana. The center, which houses the college's Culinary Arts program and dealer school, offers students top-of-the-line industrial kitchens, a baking lab, mock hotel rooms and a gaming lab — a direct response to the state's multi-billion-dollar hospitality industry, which expects a 14.9% increase in hospitality-related jobs by 2026. 

"We are big supporters of SOWELA," said Gregory Hennagin, the casino's senior vice president and general manager. "Now that SOWELA has the Culinary, Gaming and Hospitality Center, we're looking forward to working with the college even more and hiring many more graduates." 

Download the check presentation picture here.  


About Visit Lake Charles:  
Visit Lake Charles, the official destination marketing organization for Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana, is the only organization in Southwest Louisiana providing advocacy, promotion, and education for the tourism industry. For more information on Visit Lake Charles and things to see and do in Louisiana’s Playground, log on to