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Gala Honorees

2018 Community Honoree

Kevin Ortzman Head Shot

Kevin Ortzman

Regional President, Bally's Caesars, and Harrah's Resort Atlantic City

With over twenty years of leadership experience in the gaming and finance industries, Kevin Ortzman serves as Regional President for Caesars Entertainment, overseeing three of the city’s premier resort destinations – Caesars, Bally’s and Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City.

An Atlantic City native, Kevin, his wife and three daughters returned back to the Atlantic City region after spending seven years with Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, Nevada.  His immediate influence in Atlantic City helped him garner his leadership role as President of the Casino Association of New Jersey (CANJ), which he has held since 2014.  The CANJ provides a collective voice for the Atlantic City casino industry by facilitating the exchange of information and ideas between our industry, small businesses, Atlantic City stakeholders, New Jersey Regulators and the general public.

In February 2017, Kevin was appointed by the Governor to a two-year term on the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority’s board of directors.  The board includes a member of the Casino Control Commission, the Mayor of Atlantic City, the State Attorney General, State Treasurer, the head of the State Department of Community Affairs and two members of the casino industry.

Prior to returning to Atlantic City, Kevin held the position of Regional Assistant General Manager and CFO/Vice President of Finance for three Las Vegas properties – Bally’s, Paris and Planet Hollywood – all part of the Caesars Entertainment family.  In this capacity, he oversaw property operations, customer service, entertainment, finance and accounting.  In addition, he was a key contributor to the acquisition and integration of the Planet Hollywood Resort Casino into the Caesars Entertainment brands.  He also served as the Executive Sponsor for the OWN IT! program and in 2011, Bally’s, Paris and Planet Hollywood earned their highest-ever property scores.

Before joining Caesars Entertainment in 2004, Kevin’s professional experience included nine years with Ortzman & Associates, a strategy and financial management consulting firm and six years with Price Waterhouse. Ortzman’s operational and strategic expertise as well as his commitment to service excellence will ensure that Caesars, Bally’s, and Harrah's Resort continue to grow stronger, more innovative and remain competitive properties in Atlantic City.

Kevin is a graduate of Stockton University with a Bachelor of Arts in Business and earned his MBA from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California – Los Angeles. He is also a Certified Public Accountant in California and Nevada.

2018 Academy of Culinary Arts Honoree

Chef Georgeann Leaming Head Shot

Chef Georgeann Leaming

Head Chef at Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill located at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel & Casino

Despite wide regard as a fan favorite and Season 19 champion of The Food Network’s Chopped series, and a diverse background that spans from popular Philadelphia eateries to upscale Italian cuisine, Chef Georgeann Leaming is undoubtedly considered a “late bloomer” by traditional culinary standards.  It wasn’t until the age of 23, while working as a preschool teacher and pregnant with her daughter Kirsten, that Leaming saw fit to take a risk by enrolling at the Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing, N.J. to pursue her childhood fascination of cooking and food.

“There was no prophetic ‘ah-ha’ moment that led me to pursue a career in cooking,” Chef Leaming explains. “I knew I wanted a job I was passionate about and cooking has always been a part of my life. As the youngest of three in a single parent household, I grew up preparing meals at a very early age just to help out around the house. Though I’m sure my Italian background and huge Sunday dinners had a large influence on my career path, I had no idea that one seemingly random decision would set so many amazing opportunities into motion.”

Upon graduating from the academy in 1999, Leaming gained kitchen and management experience at a variety of establishments throughout Atlantic City including Harrah’s Resort (1999-2004) and Showboat Casino (2008 – 2011), under the direction and mentorship of legendary food and beverage executive, Mike Bowman. During her tenure down the Jersey shore, Leaming quickly learned the many facets of “corporate cooking” and mastered the art of front and back house work, room service, and banquets, to name a few.  She went on to serve as opening Executive Chef at Latz’s By The Bay (2011-2012) in Somers Point, NJ. Leaming describes her cooking style as “clean and simple recipes that highlight the main components of the dish.” Rather than pigeonhole her specialties to one particular technique or ethnicity, Chef Leaming prefers to work various cultures and flavors into her menu, “At the end of the day, I want a beautiful dish that tastes great and makes the person eating it happy.”


The 35th Annual Restaurant Gala is dedicated in memory of James Cooper

James Cooper

James L. Cooper (1929-2017)

The Atlantic Cape Community College Restaurant Gala would like to recognize the 2017 passing of James L. Cooper, a pillar of our community and strong supporter of Atlantic Cape.  A visionary and driving force behind the Atlantic Cape Community College Foundation, Jim will be deeply missed.

Mr. Cooper believed in helping the under-served in our community and acted on this belief.  Under Jim's leadership, the Foundation achieved great success and supported deserving students for 35 years.  He was able to provide access to education that would have otherwise been unattainable for many students through scholarship funding.

Recognized as a champion of the Atlantic Cape Restaurant Gala, Jim Cooper was selected as the Community Honoree at the event’s 25th anniversary in 2008.  In addition, he was selected as Atlantic Cape's first Distinguished Foundation Board member in 2011.

On behalf of the Foundation, Atlantic Cape Community College, and the hundreds of students he impacted, we would sincerely like to thank James L. Cooper and his family for his decades of support.