INA - Although he won't be the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl XLI, Joey Hattendorf is still going to Disney World. His trip, however, will be all business.
The 19-year-old Rend Lake College sophomore, of Mt. Vernon, has been selected to intern at the global vacation destination. And he couldn't be more thrilled if he was the Super Bowl MVP.
"It feels amazing," he said. "I am honored to have such a great opportunity. I know that they only choose a certain few people and to be one of them is a great feeling."
Hattendorf explained that his girlfriend, Rachel Gowler, asked him if he would be interested in joining her in applying for an internship at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Gowler, a student at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville, is going to intern in the Food and Beverage Department at Disney World. Hattendorf, a Culinary Arts major at RLC, said he went on-line and submitted an application.
"I didn't really think that I would get in because they have so many culinary schools across the country with students applying for an internship at Disney World," he said. "I didn't have high expectations, but when I got the callback and they asked me if I still wanted to intern, I jumped right on it."
An aside to the great work experience he will be getting through the internship is that Hattendorf will have the opportunity to view culinary techniques practiced in Floridian cuisine, he said. He's been to Disneyland, but he's never been to Disney World or Florida, he added.
"I expect to learn a wide variety of things," he said. "Being down south near the ocean, there are different styles of food that they offer there and not here. And I hope to learn how to cook those things."
The internship is also a way for Hattendorf to be thrown into a dramatically different social environment and come out a more cultured young man.
"I think that the diversity of everybody is going to throw me around a little bit because I'm used to Southern Illinois," he said. "But, in the information I was given, it said that I could have up to seven roommates and I think that will be good for me. I've never been out on my own, but surprisingly, I'm not nervous about meeting new people. I am excited about it."
He lives with his father, Don, and stepmother, Meg Hattendorf, in Mt. Vernon. His mother, Sesser resident Julie Loucks, is responsible for providing her son with an appetite for Culinary Arts, he said. That hunger to learn more about Culinary Arts was fed during his freshman year of high school while working in a bakery owned by a friend of his mother, he explained. From then on, he knew what he wanted to do. But, how to get there was another question.
"When I found out that Rend Lake College had a Culinary Arts program, I thought that I would give it a shot," he said.
Hattendorf has a 3.60 Grade Point Average while studying under RLC's expert culinary instructors Brian Kalata and Loughton Smith, who trained at the famed Culinary Institute of America.
"He's a local kid and he's a good student," Kalata said. "It is an excellent opportunity for him to go down there and get some good training. I would like to see more of our students follow suit and I wish him the best of luck."
Hattendorf plans to transfer his college credit earned at RLC to Kendall College - a culinary arts college in downtown Chicago - after he is finished with the internship, which runs from Jan. 1 to mid-May, he said.
"I am hoping that, when I go to [Kendall College], I will find a specific area that I like most - whether it is cooking, baking or pastries," he said.
While interning at WDW, Hattendorf will be earning college credit through RLC's Cooperative Work Study Program.
The Walt Disney World College Program recruits students (18 years and older) and all majors for a semester-long paid internship program working at the Walt Disney World Resort. The philosophy behind the program is further broken down into its three main concentrations: Living, Learning and Earning.
He said the internship will teach him more in-depth aspects of his field of interest than what he is able to learn as a part-time employee for a local restaurant.
"I plan on working as much as I can," Hattendorf said. "Where I work at now - the Ninth Street Grill in Mt. Vernon - I do a little bit of prep work with the food. But, I think going to Disney World is an opportunity for me to focus on working more, learning more and being able to put more of my time into working in the culinary arts field.
"One big goal of mine is to move on and finish school," he said. "And I know that if I would get hired on full-time it would be a great opportunity. But, fulfilling my goal is my number one priority."
Although he is not ready to permanently relocate to the Panhandle, he is ready for Florida in January.
"I'm going to Disney World!" he said.