Bruce Sandground is the newest instructor at Arizona Culinary Institute, and quite possibly the most different. He is easily spotted at the school, just look for the only instructor wearing a tie instead of a white jacket. Bruce started teaching Hospitality Management, Nutrition, and Wines at ACI just in April 2010, and has already made quite a splash at the school. Born and raised in Washington D.C., Bruce feels as if he has been bred his whole life for the career he now holds. His father was an attorney for the best chefs in D.C. His mother was a teacher, and arranged the flowers in a French restaurant before she began practicing as a dietician and nutritionist at their home.
Bruce attended hotel school at James Madison University in Harrisburg, VA, and went on to finish the degree in Hotel Management at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. At Cornell Hotel School, he also studied with Professor Vance Christian, who was the Villa Banfi Chair of Wines and Spirits. After college, he started working at the Regent Hotel in Washington D.C. run by Two Star Chef Guenter Seeger, as the Assistant Executive Steward, i.e.- dishwasher. He had worked his way all the way up to the front of the house there before his mentor, Tom Goss, also a Cornell graduate, recruited him to open a new Sign of the Whale restaurant, in Falls Church, VA. At Sign of the Whale, Bruce again worked his way up, this time from Assistant Manager to General Manager. He became operating partner, and finally full owner. Bruce ran the restaurant for fifteen years.
In that time, Bruce was on the Virginia Restaurant Association Board of Directors, was the Secretary of the Metropolitan Restaurant Association, and also served as the Vice Chairman of the non-profit charity Bartenders Ball. In 2001, Bruce sold the Sign of the Whale. He moved his family to Gilbert, Arizona, in hopes that the warm weather would help his wife’s arthritis, and to be closer to her family. He became a member of the American Culinary Federation. Through membership in the Federation he met many fine chefs in Arizona. For several years he worked for RC Schreiber Spice Distribution as well as in the sales of credit cards, payroll, management and marketing. In 2008, he opened the second Sign of the Whale in Tempe, AZ. The restaurant was based on the original in Virginia, and while it was a favorite in Tempe, the restaurant fell victim to the bad economy and closed in January, 2010.
Clearly, Bruce Sandground is a man of many talents and of broad experience. Fortunately, Bruce is sharing his expertise in hotel management, nutrition, and wines with the students at ACI. “All of the other instructors are worried about knife cuts, I’m worried about students computer skills.” Bruce ensures that every student leaves with a thorough understanding of how to completely run a restaurant. In Bruce’s classes you could expect to learn about nutrition and healthier menu choices. Additionally, you are taught how to do a complete nutritional analysis on your daily diet. Students also learn how to write a menu, how to cost it out, and how to match wines with entrees. Bruce has also helped to expand the curriculum in several ways. He has introduced a more thorough teaching of restaurant financial analysis and marketing. Students are now taken on site for an in-depth tour of a local microbrewery, Rock Bottom, in Phoenix, AZ. A tour of Coffee Roasters of Arizona, an organic facility in Scottsdale, is also included as a part of this new curriculum.
In his spare time Bruce races vintage motorcycles, and is a two-time champion in the Sportsman 125 class on his 1974 Suzuki.
He has really done it all, from washing dishes to owning a restaurant. The knowledge and experience that Bruce has acquired over the years really allows him to prepare his students with the skills they will need to succeed in the world of culinary arts and hotel management.