By Noah Parks
This wonderful month of May is a warm, and green one. It is a bit wet but that’s just the weather in New York City during Spring. Like Robert Frost wrote, “Nature’s first green is gold”. And as the world turns green again, we’re reminded as we have been reminded every year since 1978, that this is National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. When President Carter enacted the first AAPI heritage celebration he said of the AAPI community, ”At last their confidence in the United States has been justified. We have succeeded in removing the barriers to full participation in American life”. This incredible journey by immigrant families to work, live, and thrive in the United States is an inspiring story filled with examples of what it means to be hospitable. Indeed our hospitality industry has been the beneficiary of many AAPI contributions. This is the cycle that HMG+ supports, as a supporter of the AAPI community and a member of the hospitality industry. For every event that we execute, we receive just as much fulfillment and it reaffirms our commitment to building community.
Neil DeGuia was a son of immigrants from the Philippines who began in service at 15. “I grew up in an immigrant family who loved to host and entertain people. So the hospitality industry was a natural fit for me,” says DeGuira. His love for welcoming people to have experiences and provide services led him to start down a path that ended up with him being one of the few Asian American hotel complex managers. Of which there are very few, only 6.2% of the managers in hospitality are members of the AAPI community. Many others in the field of hospitality can heed his advice of “My best advice is to find a leader or property who values their employees. A leader who will work hard and ensure they have the right tools and training to be successful in their job,” he said.
The tangible influence of Asian and Pacific culture is everywhere in hospitality. Many shows like Top Chef and Chopped regularly feature ingredients that midwesterners like me have no idea how to prepare. This includes fried rice, which seems simple but actually has a very specific way of being prepared and does not include any vegetables except green onions. All of the traditions of the Maori and other indigenous peoples are examples of sophisticated cuisine that informs our modern pallet. Again, many events we’ve done feature these flavors in concert with traditional preparations. The success and prominence of these unique flavors and preparations speak not only of their own merit but the power of hospitality to create a path forward for all the immigrants. Through food and culture we can begin to understand the long history that was maligned by Western conquerors and colonizers. Now we can begin to heal and celebrate the gifts that the AAPI community has given us.
As the saying goes, “You have to give it away in order to receive it.”, so too does HMG+ seek to build up our leaders from within. Offering pathways to leadership to all of our service professionals. The way that Neil moved up is very much the same way that people like David Chang, Monique Fiso, or any member of the AAPI community moved up: with hardwork and determination and the support of organizations that believe in them. With a goal in mind and a willingness to do anything to achieve that goal. With support from experts and hospitality professionals HMG+ will put any AAPI service professional in a position to make their mark on the hospitality industry. Teaming up with HMG+ is a sure way to secure future success. Securing soft skills that one can leverage across industries and companies is essential to a long and fulfilling career in hospitality. HMG+ is proud to support our Asian-American and Pacific Islander family in our growing community.