The Sabine Area Restaurant Association (SARA) dedicates this year’s Taste of the Triangle to southeast Texas’s “hospitality expert.”


Dr. Molly Dahm, director of Lamar University’s Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Programs, has served as a member of SARA’s board of directors since 1998. She is also actively involved in the association’s Education Committee, which works to secure training and scholarships for Lamar students.


Her devotion to the restaurant association stems from a philosophy that giving is just as important as receiving. “Of all the local organizations,” said Dr. Dahm, “SARA is the most active in supporting our LU program. We want our students to understand that to be successful in business, they must be active in giving back to their communities. That’s what we stress to our student, that’s what we build into our academic program, and that’s what SARA members do. To date, SARA has donated more than $200,000 to Lamar’s programs in the form of scholarships and program equipment. We wouldn’t be able to offer the students the quality program we do without SARA’s support.”


For the past four years, Dr. Dahm, along with Frank Messina and Rich Courville, has co-chaired the Chef’s Delight fundraiser that provides scholarships for Lamar majors seeking careers in the hospitality and food service industries. From 2004 to 2007, scholarship funds raised at the Chef’s Delight auction increased from $11,000 to more than $100, 000 annually.


The recipient of the 2005 University Merit Award for outstanding performance in the classroom shares 20 years of domestic and international experience in the hospitality industry with her students. Dahm has managed convention centers, hotels, casinos, private clubs and restaurants, including one for media mogul and philanthropist Ted Turner in Atlanta. She was a member of the 1984 Summer Olympics hospitality management team in Los Angeles, California.


Since coming to Lamar University in 1996, Dr. Dahm has taught 25 different courses on topics ranging from wine appreciation to graduate research methods. She was instrumental in Lamar obtaining American Culinary Federation accreditation for the Culinary Arts Program. It is one of eight accredited programs in Texas. Dahm is particularly proud of the fact that program graduates are represented in key industry management positions throughout Southeast Texas and beyond: “SARA was instrumental to the success of those students. Many graduates who are now industry leaders continue to contribute to and shape Lamar’s program. They’ve come full circle.”


Dahm remains active in eight professional associations including the National Restaurant Association, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, the Club Managers Association of America and the American Psychological Association. She has a bachelor of arts from the University of Georgia in linguistics and language, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hotel and restaurant management from Florida International University and a doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Houston.


“Molly just never stops working,” noted SARA President Rich Courville. “She never stops supporting SARA and her students. She is dedicated to the restaurant association and food service industry like no other person I know.”