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This is the high season in South Beach Florida, and we revel in the festivals that take advantage of our sunshine and mild winter weather.  Last week’s event was the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.  We attended the festival and met up there Dean Mike Hampton.  He’s the Dean of Florida International University’s Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Hampton was kind enough to sit with us amongst the hustle and bustle in the Grand Tasting Village and share his insight on where the business of hospitality is going. Dean Hampton explained what he thinks the hospitality industry has to offer people at all points in their careers, including college students at the entry level and professionals looking for encore careers.

Of course, the essential skill in the hospitality business is the art of welcoming guests and being personable.  Technology is a newer component that provides new ways of connecting with guests and customers. Dean Hampton gave the example of the restaurant Bone’s in Atlanta, which uses iPads to facilitate wine and food menu choices.

After the festival, we connected with Brian Phelan, Director of Procurement for Feeding South Florida.  Phelan and his team coordinated a massive food rescue effort after the South Beach Wine & Food Festival.  Food rescue means safely using unserved and still consumable food.  In the case of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, chefs and restaurants have to overprepare so they don’t run out of food. This year, Phelan and his team rescued about 40,000 pounds of food.

After the Burger Bash, Brian Phelan and others on the team at Feeding South Florida weigh and sort food (including a lot of gourmet burger patties) before loading it onto the refrigerated truck.

Phelan worked in the restaurant industry for 25 years, but he needed a change. For one thing, he was tired of having to send back untouched plates of food to the kitchen when customers said, “I don’t like the way it looks.”  Phelan channeled his knowledge of the food industry into a career for social good that energizes him.

Feeding South Florida is a clearinghouse that provides food and meals to over 700 soup kitchens, food banks and charities in Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

If your organization is interested in connecting with Feeding South Florida for either volunteering or food donations, please contact

This episode’s book: Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life by Mark Freedman