Uniacke to attend hotel management and culinary arts school overseas

Chloe Wintersteen

This fall, senior Spencer Uniacke will attend the Cèsar Ritz School of Hotel Management and Culinary Arts in Switzerland at its Le Bouveret campus on Lake Geneva. There, he will study hospitality and hotel management with a focus on entrepreneurship.

The Uniacke family dines in Monaco.
The Uniacke family dines in Monaco.

Uniacke’s decision to pursue hotel management and culinary arts stemmed in part from his family’s investment in the restaurant industry.  

“I feel like I have roots in culinary arts through interest, not through school or any outside influence. My mom is a chef by hobby, and we make a point of going to high-end restaurants around the world for culinary experiences for the purpose of critiquing and understanding depth of flavor,” Uniacke said. “Also, in recent years my parents invested in two restaurants. They’ve been letting me in on it so I can see what the process is like.”

Though Uniacke had planned on pursuing videogame advertising and marketing as an underclassman, he became interested in hotel management and hospitality junior year after traveling to foreign countries such as Thailand, France, Korea, Mexico, Switzerland, Chilé and Norway.

Uniacke decided to apply to the César Ritz School of Hotel Management and Culinary Arts because he said that Switzerland is known for its hospitality degrees and has deep roots in the hotel industry. Though Uniacke explored additional college options, he ultimately decided to only apply to the César Ritz School.

“When I was looking at schools, I realized I hadn’t done really great in high school grade-wise, but I am pretty smart. By going to an international school and interviewing and talking to people, I knew they’d get a good understanding of me,” Uniacke said. “When I was doing my application, it looked like I was set up to succeed, and had the resources and knowledge to get in. I realized it would be a waste of my time to apply to other schools.”  

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Uniacke visits a tiger reserve in Chiangmai, Thailand.

There were many differences between the application process for the César Ritz School and a typical application processes for four-year American colleges, Uniacke said. For example, Uniacke was in contact with a representative from the César Ritz school throughout the entire process, and he didn’t provide his high school grades or a GPA. Instead of writing an essay, he wrote a letter of motivation.

“In my letter of motivation, I had to say what I was interested in in the industry, what I wanted to do with my degree, why I would be important to their school and how I would be one of their top alumi,” Uniacke said.

The César Ritz School of Hotel Management and Culinary Arts is located in a converted hotel. Uniacke will live in a hotel room, take classes in large kitchens and wear the required suit-and-tie uniform.

Uniacke is excited to take classes related to his career interest so soon after graduating high school.

“There aren’t non-essential classes here, which is something that attracted me to it. I’ll be taking classes like statistics, business and how to run a front desk, as opposed to taking biomedical science,” Uniacke said.

Every meal he eats will be made by culinary arts students; however, there are additional opportunities for extracurricular culinary experiences.

“One thing that’s really awesome is that [the school] has a fine dining room that you sign up to go to. The only fee is if you buy wine,” Uniacke said. “They also have a bar and club at the campus.”

Uniacke said he is especially excited to attend an international school because he’ll be exposed to a wide array of students.

“When we were there, there was only one American student at any of the three campuses, and they weren’t even a permanent student,” Uniacke said. “I want to be immersed in other cultures while being in a different place with new people and new experiences. I chose Europe because I want to see the world more than I already have, and travel around the mainland on breaks.”

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The Uniacke family visits Gruyere, Switzerland.

With his degree, Uniacke hopes to work in the hotel management and corporate industries, and eventually open his own restaurant.

“My supposed restaurant is going to cater toward people who appreciate good food. I think it’s hard for young children to appreciate food unless they’re brought up in a house where that’s a focus,” Uniacke said. “I think I would cater toward a demographic of 18 to 65, because I feel like old people don’t like spice. They don’t like flair. They like bland. And I don’t like bland, I like flair.”

Uniacke plans to run his future restaurant in an environmentally sustainable way.

“I think it’s going to be more important in coming years and generations––especially with the population increasing––to make good food that’s profitable and also sustainable,” he said. “I want my impact to be farm-to-table, more organic, not outsourcing for your product. Outsourcing for your products can be good, and you can get amazing meat or herbs that you can’t really get unless you outsource, but things like vegetables can be amazing if they come from an organic farm.”

Despite Uniacke’s passion for food, he cannot identify his favorite dish.

“The best thing you’ve ever eaten is your dream dish, until you eat a better dish. But I’ve eaten at so many top-tier places, so many delicious flavors, I don’t know that one really stands above another as better,” Uniacke said. “It’s really what meal is best, because when you go to a place like that, they don’t serve a dish. They serve three to seven courses based on the palette: acidic, sweet, salty, umami, bitter, and sour. Their goal is to balance that throughout the course, like the tempo of an orchestra.”