Annual Dinner and Fundraiser, The Run for the RITz, Slated for March 26

Phaedra Ruffalo, hospitality executive and RIT alumna, named honorary chairperson

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Rick Madurski

Phaedra Ruffalo

The School of International Hospitality and Service Innovation at Rochester Institute of Technology is hosting its 26th Puttin’ on the RITz Dinner, The Run for the RITz, on March 26. The annual black-tie dinner and fundraiser for the college takes place at 7 p.m. at Irondequoit Country Club, 4045 East Ave.

The event is open to the public and tickets can be obtained through the event website. All proceeds from the dinner go toward the RIT Hospitality Education Fund, which provides scholarships, undergraduate and graduate awards, as well as stipends for student travel related to the college’s international hospitality program.

This year’s honorary chairperson is Phaedra Ruffalo, the chief insights officer of the food consulting company Surge Insights, and former business development and innovations manager of Mars Food Corp. The RIT alumna participated as a chef for five RITz dinners while a student in the undergraduate and graduate hospitality management programs.

“Phaedra had a special role for the RITz dinners she was a part of in the past,” says Rick Madurski, a second-year hotel and resort management student and the public relations chair for the event. “It’s a true testament to her personal qualities, as not just anyone can step in there and run the show in a hectic kitchen environment.”

Ruffalo’s experience in the food and hospitality business ranges from customer service to marketing and management. She has held positions in some of the largest food service corporations including Trader Joe’s, Mrs. Smith’s Bakeries and Heinz before holding leadership positions with Mars and her own business Surge Insights.

The student-hosts will provide a Kentucky Derby themed menu, from the grilled pears with candied walnuts on spring greens at the start and sweet potato bisque to the finish line with bourbon-infused chocolate pecan pie.

Contact Madurski at for more information or purchase tickets online.