Meet Minneapolis recently presented its Hospitality Hero award to Seng Sengpanya, the sous chef at The Marquette Hotel. This award honors a company or an individual who has contributed considerably to the public image of Minneapolis through exemplary hospitality and service.

Sengpanya has been with The Marquette Hotel since beginning her career there as a housekeeper 30 years ago. Over the years, she has worked her way through multiple departments before becoming the hotel’s sous chef.

Stephanie Sweeney, senior human resources manager at the hotel, nominated Sengpanya due to her willingness to go the extra mile in providing service to visitors. Sweeney believes Sengpanya’s efforts elevate visitor’s experiences and motivate them to return to the city.

“Her infectious smile, always positive attitude, and cultural background and story leaves a lasting impression on visitors and team members that that keeps them coming back and wanting to learn more about her, Minneapolis, and eat some of her delicious food,” said Sweeney.

We reached out to Sengpanya to hear all about her reaction to the honor, her history with the company and her favorite things about the city of Minneapolis.

1. What does this award mean to you? 

It makes me so happy and proud with what I have done at the Marquette Hotel.

2. What goals do you have in mind for the hotel for this year and farther down the line? 

For this year, I want to teach all my co-workers something new, whether it is a new menu, new item, or a new way of cooking. I take a picture and teach them how to do it, so they can always reference that. For farther down the line, I want to continue to take care of the customer - doing whatever they want - so that guests continue to be amazed. Whether it is part of my job or not, I care about everything and how we are perceived. I want to help out with any team member to make sure the guest has an amazing experience. I will always jump in and help. Guest happiness is very important to me. The Marquette Hotel is treated just as my home is, I will do whatever is needed to ensure the highest level of guest satisfaction.

3. You’ve now been honored as a Hospitality Hero. Who are a few of your personal heroes? 

My family, friends and the Marquette Hotel are my personal heroes. The Marquette Hotel is my second family. It is how I feel because it is how I came to the United States; working at the Marquette Hotel was my first job since I came to the United States. I learned everything here. I started in housekeeping and learned almost every department. I can relate to every department because I know how they work and how they feel. I learned how to speak English and work at the same time - so it is how I understand and can jump in and work with every department. I started at the bottom, so it helps me relate to everyone.

4. What do you enjoy most about working at The Marquette?

I enjoy cooking and learning. I am always learning new things from our new team members. I like learning alongside everyone. Everyone has something to offer and that
is how I learn.

5. If you could give advice to yourself when you were just starting out in the industry, what would that advice be? 

When I was hired in housekeeping, I didn’t know English at all. I knew that if I learned English I would be able to work anywhere. I wanted to learn everything. Once I learned English I was able to transfer to the kitchen, where I could learn more English skills and also cooking skills. I was able to continue to move up and Hilton offered me so many opportunities to advance my career. I am continually learning. All my family and children know the Marquette Hotel - they all know I love my job. Everyone at the Marquette knows my family and how much I love them. So looking back, the advice I would give myself would be to go for every opportunity because it will turn out great.

6. Besides The Marquette, where is your favorite place to dine in the city? 

I love to eat at Quang Vietnamese Restaurant - it is authentic and reminds me of my home country.

7. What are your top three favorite things about Minneapolis?

The Zoo, Mall of America and the State Fair. I love to walk, look around, shop around and see what is going on in Minneapolis.

8. If you could describe Minneapolis to someone using just one word, what would that word be? 

Beautiful. When I go home I tell people how beautiful it is in Minneapolis. All of my family that comes from overseas want to go to Windows on Minnesota to take pictures of the beautiful city to show their friends at home. It seems like they take one million pictures.

Lela Restaurant has rolled out new lunch and dinner menus, created by new executive chef Thomas Orbison.

Chef Orbison discovered his passion and talent for cooking following his career in the United States Air Force. “After six years in the military, I developed a passion for cooking and moved to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu, which is like Harvard for chefs,” said Orbison.

Now that he’s back in Minnesota for the first time since 2004, Orbison is excited to launch some new entrees in the southwest metro.


Maite Kuhns, a corporate trainer and recruiter for Parasole restaurants has been named the Hospitality Hero award winner for fourth quarter by 2017 by Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Association. This honor that is nominated by their colleagues, is given quarterly to a member who has made valuable contributions to the image and culture within the Minneapolis hospitality community.


Kira Musolf has been named a Hospitality Hero award winner for third quarter by Meet Minneapolis, Convention and Visitors Association. This award is given quarterly to members of the Minneapolis hospitality community. Nominated by colleagues, this honors individuals or companies that have made impressive and memorable contributions to the image and culture of Minneapolis through their hospitality and service.