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The Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute (HCAT) is a leader in providing credit and noncredit courses and programs to meet the needs of a dynamic and expanding hospitality industry.

The hospitality industry is Maryland’s largest private employer and continues to expand here and across the nation. Career prospects are best for those with a college education and training.

At HCAT, our mission is to provide accessibility to an array of high quality, credentialed programs; experiential learning; responsive, customized training for business; and fun and credible community education activities that support the hospitality, culinary arts and tourism needs of the industry and the consumer.

Areas and Offerings

Faculty and Staff

The staff and faculty of HCAT Institute have a commitment to academic excellence and an enthusiasm to help students excel while maintaining a nationally-recognized status as a leader in all aspects of hospitality training.

Chef Matthew Herron, CCE, Director

Email Matt or call 410-777-2707

Chef Matt Herron, CCE, has a deep seated passion for food and the food industry. This can be seen through his over 20 years of experience running kitchens in casinos, restaurants, grocery, as well as a background in TV shows, publications, and food styling at America’s Test Kitchen. Prior to joining AACC, Matt started down the path of education by hosting internship programs, and functioned as the program Chair at Le Cordon Bleu. This journey continues to drive him, and as the director of the HCAT program he works to develop and maintain sound educational systems that are learner-centric, with a foundation based on the knowledge, skills, and abilities that the community needs. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Penn State, an A.A.S and a B.S. in Culinary Arts from Johnson & Wales, and an M. Ed. in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue.

Chef Donnisha Grant, M.Ed., MSIHM, CHE, Assistant Director

Email Donnisha or call 410-777-2314

Donnisha Grant, MSIHM, CHE, is an assistant director for the HCAT Institute. She oversees the hospitality program, noncredit programming and Dealer School. Grant's main focus is to attract and expand the minds of students who are entering the hospitality management field. She believes every person deserves the opportunity to discover what they love, and to pursue it without any boundaries. Grant has over five years of teaching experience and over 10 years of industry experience. She has worked as an adjunct instructor at Morgan State University and Howard Community College, a full-time professor at Stratford University, and was an instructional specialist for the HCAT Institute. Grant received her Associate of Applied Science in culinary arts from Baltimore International College, Bachelor of Science in hospitality management from Morgan State University, and a master’s in education and a master’s in international hospitality management from Strayer University.

Chef David Ludwig, CEPC, CHE, Assistant Director

Email David or call 410-777-2063.

Chef David Ludwig, CEPC, CHE, is an assistant director for the HCAT Institute who oversees the Culinary and Baking and Pastry programs. Ludwig believes that while it's easy to get a job in the hospitality industry, it is much harder to build a lasting career, and that education is the key to finding that level of success. He has coached Team Anne Arundel, is an adviser to the HCAT Chef’s Club and is a certification evaluator for the American Culinary Federation. Ludwig has worked as a boulanger under Chef Michel Gras at La Patisserie, Cape May, N.J., pastry cook at the Trellis Restaurant, executive pastry chef for the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Va., worked at the five-star, five-diamond Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, chef for the English Tea Room at Reynold’s Tavern in Annapolis, and adjunct instructor and instructional specialist for the HCAT Institute. He has completed several courses at the Culinary Institute of America, both in Hyde Park, N.Y., and Greystone, Calif. Ludwig holds an Applied Associate of Science in culinary arts from Atlantic Cape Community College, a Bachelor of Science in hospitality management from DeVry University, and is pursuing a master’s in distance learning with University of Maryland Global Campus.

HCAT Instructional Staff/Advisors 

HCAT's instructional staff is ACF accredited and have a broad, extensive background of industry experience. Professionals with a passion for excellence in education, they are dedicated to improving student learning and outcomes. Learn more about our team and read their biographies below.

Baking and Pastry

Chef Melissa Hawkins, CWPC

Email Melissa or call 410-777-2099   

Chef Melissa Hawkins, CWPC, is an instructional specialist who teaches credit baking and pastry courses. Her specialties are cake decorating and bread. Hawkins believes there is no end to learning in the culinary world; every new dish you try is adding to your culinary education. In addition to teaching baking and pastry curriculum, she teaches the noncredit bartending courses. In her free time, she runs her own cake business, Chocolate Chic Connection. Hawkins has been the assistant pastry chef at The Maryland Club, executive pastry chef at Cosima and garde manger chef at the Baltimore Country Club.  She has over 13 years of experience as a bartender at Hard Rock Café. Hawkins holds an Associate of Applied Science in baking and pastry and culinary arts from Anne Arundel Community College and a Bachelor of Arts in hospitality from Baltimore International College.

Chef Virginia Olson, CWPC, CHE

Email Virginia or call 410-777-2208

Chef Virginia Olson, CWPC, CHE, is an instructional specialist who teaches credit baking and pastry courses.  Olson specializes in artisan breads, chocolate and confections. She believes learning is a process of discovery, an exploration of the wider world as well as a student's personal abilities and interests. Olson believes that setting the bar high and striving for personal excellence will lead to professional achievement. In 2020 she was awarded Teacher of the Year from Anne Arundel Community College’s Student Association. Olson has worked at The Main Ingredient in Annapolis and Renaissance Pastries in Savage. She has worked as a pastry chef at the Harbor Court Hotel in Baltimore, 1789 in Georgetown, and Butterfield 9 in Washington, D.C. Olson earned a master’s degree in Russian studies from Georgetown University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Russian and international studies from the University of Oregon. A 1995 graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, she has completed additional programs of study at the International School of Confectionary Arts, Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif., King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vt., Chocolate Academy in Chicago and Valrhona in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Chef Michael Santos, CEPC

Email Michael or call 410-777-2488

Chef Michael Santos, CEPC, is an instructional specialist who teaches credit and noncredit baking and pastry courses. He passes down to his students the expertise and skills he has gained in over 25 years of industry experience. Santos has been awarded American Culinary Federation (ACF) competition medals in the categories of Single Tier Celebration Cakes, Hot Plated Dessert, Breads and Chocolate Candy Display, and Cold Plated Dessert. In 2014 and 2016 he was voted ACF Greater Baltimore Chapter’s Pastry Chef of the Year. Santos has 10 years of teaching experience as an adjunct instructor at Stratford University, Howard Community College and Anne Arundel Community College. He has held the positions of executive pastry chef, assistant pastry chef and food and beverage manager with The Olive Group, Ritz Carlton Hotels, Marriot Hotels and Hilton Hotels. Santos holds an Associate of Applied Science degree in baking and pastry Making from Baltimore International College. He continues to attend trainings and conferences specializing in the science of baking and pastry to further advance his knowledge and skills.


Chef Michael Levins, CEC, CCA, WCCE, WCEC

Email Michael or call 410-777-2918

Chef Michael Levins, CEC, CCA, WCCE, WCEC, is an instructional specialist teaching credit culinary courses.  Levins believes in a positive learning environment that encourages students to think outside the box. Levins has been in the culinary industry for over 20 years and has worked in many roles. His career highlights include the Vanity Fair Oscar Party and working at Walt Disney at the Rotunda in the executive dining room. He is a member of the American Culinary Federation (ACF). Levins participates in several positions and appointments for ACF; certification chair for the Greater Baltimore ACF chapter, certification evaluator trainer, and post-secondary accreditation education evaluator. He holds an Associate of Applied Science in culinary and hospitality management from Howard Community College.

Chef Randy Stahl, CEC

Email Randy or call 410-777-1178.

Chef Randy Stahl, CEC, is an instructional specialist teaching culinary courses. He specializes in bringing real-life experiences into the academic classroom and kitchen. He enjoys guiding students through fundamentals in culinary skills and life skills that are necessary for a career in the food service industry. Stahl believes in learning as a lifelong endeavor, mastered only through diligence, discipline and constant effort to reach for the stars and moon during your pursuit of excellence. He has committed to many local and national charities including Maryland Food Bank, Second Helping, Share our Strength, Operation Frontline, Great Chefs Dinner for the Center for Child Abuse Prevention Center of Maryland, American Cancer Foundation, Kidney Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Heritage Festival, American Culinary Federation, and Cystic Fibrosis. In 1997 Stahl was awarded the Maryland Governor’s Volunteer of the Year by then-Gov. Parris Glendenning.  

Stahl started his career while in high school at Merrickana Kosher Caterers in New York. He worked as a sous chef and chef de cuisine at Sal Anthony’s in Gramercy Park, New York City. He was a chef-partner for Country Fare Group in Fiori, co-founder of The Brass Elephant, co-designed, built and worked as executive chef/general manager at Remomo Café Italia in Anne Arundel County. A highlight in his career was preparing, with his staff, the banquet following Pope John Paul II’s Mass at Camden Yards in the private residence of Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore. 

Stahl earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics with a business minor from the University of Pittsburgh, and graduated with high honors from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Hospitality Management

Chef Ken Jarvis, CEC, CCE, CHE

Email Ken or call 410-777-2722.

Ken Jarvis, Professor, CEC, CCE, CHE, has been with the HCAT Institute since 1993. His 26 years of extensive professional experience in both front and back-of-the-house positions for full-service and catering establishments prepared him for his current position at HCAT. He has a long list of accomplishments including direct management of a 250-seat restaurant as well as an exclusive catering business; food, equipment and supplies distribution; and Executive Chef/management at a local waterfront restaurant. Ken holds a Master of Science degree in Business Administration, a Bachelor of Science in Food Service Administration, Dietetics and Nutritional Care, and an Associate Degree in Occupational Studies from the Culinary Institute of America. He is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and the American Culinary Federation.

Noncredit Food and Culinary Arts

AACC’s Hotel, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute is pleased to provide top-notch instruction for their noncredit classes by leading professionals from AACC’s staff and the community.

Noncredit Instructors

Tia Berry

Natashia Blake

Laurie Boucher

Greg Bujak

Lisa Byrd

Melissa Hawkins

Cheryl Ignaczak, CSC

Roberta Lowe

Darlene Proctor

Dan Rendulic

Christine Romans

Michael Santos

Rebecca Sileo

Carrie Svoboda

Ted Tyler

Doug Watson



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