Southwestern Oregon Community College announces Chef Reilly Meehan as the 2024 Distinguished Alumnus

Southwestern Oregon Community College announces Chef Reilly Meehan as the 2024 Distinguished Alumnus

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce Reilly Meehan is the 2024 Distinguished Alumnus. Meehan graduated in 2011 from Southwestern with an Associate of Applied Science degree in Culinary Arts.

The Distinguished Alumni award recognizes individuals who demonstrate significant contributions to their professions, communities, or academia.

“Being chosen as the 2024 SWOCC Distinguished Alumni is a high honor and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to continue to represent SWOCC and OCCI for years to come,” Meehan said.

“I was given the opportunity to pursue a career that not only allows me creative expression but also freedom and a space for individuality – all thanks to the nurturing nature of the staff and teachers I crossed paths with during my time as a student here. I look forward to seeing what this year’s graduates have to bring to this world and will continue to push myself to be the best role model I can for future graduates from this amazing program.”

The world first noticed Chef Reilly Meehan as an award winner. He won Best Young Chef in the World 2011 at the Chaines Des Rotisseurs Jenunes Comms competition in Istanbul, Turkey. That year at age 21, he was the first American to win the award – and the youngest award winner. He followed it up with awards in 2019 and 2022 – ACF Chef of the Year and Americas Global Chef Challenge champion.

Chef Meehan also is a natural teacher. An online mentor, he inspires people who are into food and non-foodies to get into food. This TikTok influencer has 391,000 people following his culinary video posts. Nearly 200,000 people follow him on Instagram.

“Reilly encompasses the best of both worlds,” says Executive Chef Randy Torres. “You can tell he has classical training with Old World style, but with a very modern approach. Fresh ideas. Inspirational. And really, he is inspirational to all genres of people from grandmas to Master Chefs.”

Meehan grew up in Central California. He first connected with Chef Torres as a high schooler during a culinary institute competition in San Jose. He enrolled at the school to learn from Chef Torres, who put together a competition team. Meehan learned and excelled. First competition he won a gold medal.

Torres soon moved to Oregon Coast Culinary Institute. In 2010, he began building the Youth Competition Team for the 2012 Culinary Olympics. Wanting to be on Torres’ team, Meehan followed him to Coos Bay to finish his studies. In 2011, he graduated and worked his way to fame.

Chef Meehan has worked at The Ritz Carlton, San Francisco’s famed The Bohemian Club and owned a restaurant. Now, as a private chef, Meehan jets between Phoenix and Southampton, N.Y. During moments of down time, he inspires thousands of people worldwide as an iconic, charismatic social media culinary teacher.

“Why he’s gaining success in his social media endeavors is his approachability and his overall demeanor,” says Torres. “Reilly’s a welcoming person and you belong in whatever he’s doing. He’s a black tie and T-shirt all rolled into one. He’s a complete package. You can have a beer with him or a glass of champagne.”

It’s very rare to ever see that in a chef. That’s why Southwestern is pleased to celebrate Chef Reilly Meehan as 2024 Distinguished Alum, and especially this year on the 25th anniversary of the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute at Southwestern.

College hosts fire training tower open house – May 23

College hosts fire training tower open house – May 23

Southwestern Oregon Community College will officially open its new Fire Training Tower on Thursday, May 23, 2024 on the Coos Campus, 1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay. The College invites the public, students, firefighters and other partners to celebrate this accomplishment and tour the four story, state-of-the-art firefighting lab from 4 to 6 p.m. Local fire department personnel will be on site, along with the college’s student firefighters.

The tower will serve as a fire and rescue operations training hub for Southwestern’s students pursuing careers in structural firefighting and emergency response. That’s not all. The College anticipates this $1 million investment also will support regional safety and enhance annual disaster response training events that can bring together lifesavers from fire departments, the U.S. Coast Guard, medical facilities, and ambulance firms.

With this investment, regional municipal and volunteer fire departments from western Douglas, Coos and Curry counties will have ongoing opportunities to train at the College close to home without leaving the region. Southwestern’s partner school Columbia Pacific Maritime also will have the ability to provide professional mariners with maritime firefighting certification classes, which represents a new opportunity for mariners.

The modular 36-foot-tall steel structure meets International Building Code/National Fire Protection Association standards. It provides students, volunteers, and professionals space to practice a variety of skills:

  • Interior search and rescue,
  • Live fire drills to learn fire behavior and suppression,
  • Safe ventilation operations,
  • Aerial firefighting,
  • Rappelling and ladder training,
  • Day and night fire drills, response and rescue,
  • Maritime/vessel fire response and rescue.

“It took us three years of planning with local fire departments to design and complete the project. This work has made our relationships stronger and the College’s fire science program more advanced, which helps students achieve even greater success,” said College President Patty Scott. “It also ensures quality training opportunities for rural volunteers so that the College is able to keep a pipeline of highly trained firefighters moving into departments as older professionals retire.”


Previously, the College used a wood-frame tower built by volunteers with donated materials in 1981 for limited training. The wood structure did not meet industry standards, and could not be used for live fire or rescue drills. With the new tower, the College also was able to expand and improve the training area around the tower, allowing better access and more people to train together at one time.


“Through hard work and determination by College staff and local fire agencies, the new fire tower is ready. This will serve as a symbol of pride for years to come, and provide an effective manner in which to train not only today’s firefighters, but tomorrows as well,” said Coos Bay Fire Chief Mark Anderson.


The project was funded with grants and donations. Organizations that made this project a reality are SWOCC Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, Bandon Dunes Charitable Foundation, City of Coos Bay, North Bend Volunteer Firefighters Association, Central Coos Fire & Rescue; and the State of Oregon via the work of Sen. David Brock Smith, Sen. Dick Anderson and Rep. Boomer Wright.

SWOCC Soccer Kids Camp 2024 – June 1

SWOCC Soccer Kids Camp 2024 – June 1

Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC) athletics is pleased to host a one-day soccer camp for players 6-18 years old on Saturday, June 1 from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on the Coos Campus (1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay). Registration is $75 per player, with all proceeds directly supporting SWOCC women’s soccer team.

Led by coaches and players of the 2023-24 women’s soccer team, the camp is designed to provide young athletes in the community with valuable skills and training as they prepare for the upcoming soccer season. Participants will have the chance to learn from experienced coaches and players while engaging in drills, exercises, and friendly matches.

Participants are encouraged to bring their own shin guards, cleats, water bottle, and lunch. Snacks and water will be provided throughout the day.

Pre-registration for the SWOCC Soccer Kids Camp is available online: https://swoccathletics.com/sb_output.aspx?form=26. Payment can be made on-site at the event. On-site registration and payment will also be available on the day of the camp.

For any additional information or questions, contact SWOCC’s head women’s soccer coach Emma Meyer: emma.meyer@socc.edu or 541-888-7711. Don’t miss this exciting opportunity to join us for a day of soccer fun in a positive, supportive environment!

Southwestern celebrates 25th Anniversary of the award-winning OCCI – June 29

Southwestern celebrates 25th Anniversary of the award-winning OCCI – June 29

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is excited to invite our community, students, and alumni to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the award-winning Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI) at a very special event. Join us for a culinary extravaganza on Saturday, June 29, 2024, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm at the Bristol Event Center, 481 Bennett Ave., Coos Bay. Seating is available by reservation only. The cost is $95 per person or $700 for a table of eight. OCCI alumni who have graduated from either the Culinary or Baking & Pastry programs receive a discounted rate of $50 per person.

Take a trip down memory lane with us, reminiscing about our humble beginnings at an off-campus facility to this year’s incredible achievement of winning Culinary Olympic medals. Our culinary program has become a beacon of quality education, and our facility a beloved gathering place for the community. It’s been an incredible journey. Southwestern wants to share this momentous occasion with long-time friends and supporters.

Come enjoy live music by jazz singer Shaymus Hanlin, stellar ice carvings, mouth-watering food stations, a silent auction, and the company of current and former students and visiting guest chefs.

Proceeds from the silent auction will go toward funding state-of-the-art culinary equipment and scholarships for students. There will be a no-host bar.

Please note: Our celebration will be held at the Bristol Event Center, not our facility on the SWOCC campus. Holding our celebration at an off-campus event space gives our students real-world experience in catering special events.

To secure reservations for this event contact Shawn Warren at shawn.warren@socc.edu or call 541-888-7309.

Culinary students excel on USA Olympic team

Culinary students excel on USA Olympic team

From Coos Bay USA to Stuttgart Germany, eight student chefs and Executive Chef Randy Torres brought the award-winning spirit of Southwestern’s Oregon Coast Culinary Institute to the IKA/Culinary Olympics in February.

OCCI students joined other aspiring chefs from across the country on the USA Junior National Team. The excitement was intense with this being the first major competition for most students. “This event is amazing! It connects young chefs with people who can help further their careers for the rest of their lives,” OCCI student chef Brooklyn Hansen said. 

image of a plate of desserts

The 26th international culinary sport competition featured teams from 55 nations and more than 1,200 participants. It’s the oldest, largest, and most international culinary competition in the industry. 

The USA National Team, comprising professional chefs from across the nation and coached by OCCI Executive Chef Randy Torres, brought home an overall Silver Medal.

“It’s wonderful being involved in the camaraderie that IKA fosters. This competition is a unique adventure for students and SWOCC is proud to be a part of it. It’s a pivotal experience that changed the direction of my life when I participated on a team in 2008.”  – Chef Torres

image of three chefs working in a commercial kitchen with plates on a counter in front of them

The USA Junior Team, all 25 or younger, participated in two competitions. They earned a Bronze Medal in the “Restaurant of Nations,” a three-course menu for 110 people, and brought home Silver in the “Junior Chef’s Table,” a five-course menu for ten people.

OCCI hosted both teams’ practice sessions as they prepared for Stuttgart. It was extremely valuable training for our students to work alongside and learn from the finest professional chefs from around the country.

Congratulations Chef Torres and OCCI students!




Pictured front row: Elena Smith, Liam T. O’ Brien, Jesone Khantikone, Brooklyn Hansen, Oliver Cowan, Chef Randy Torres

Back row: Maxwell R. Smith, Maddison Valdez, Paige Hoene

Southwestern hosts 23-24 Student Athlete Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – June 1, 2024

Southwestern hosts 23-24 Student Athlete Awards and Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – June 1, 2024

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College’s Hall of Fame Committee honors former athletes, teams, coaches, and those that have had a large impact on the school and its athletic program. One team and two individuals covering a wide range of Laker history will make up the Southwestern Oregon Community College Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

This year’s inductees are:

  • First Softball Team (1994-95) including players: Sara Anderson*, Kylleen Campbell (Nipp), Kelly Chestnut (Coleman), Sandi Corum (Wayman), Katy Gibson*, Beccy Grenz (King), Casey Howard, Misty Ferry (Howerton), Shanen “Keg” Koegler, Jennifer “Bug” Mahan (Franklin), Cheri “Pumba” Spillman (Anderson) and Coach Charlie Christiansen
  • First Softball All-Americans: Jennifer “Bug” Mahan (Franklin) and Dannett Johnson.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Saturday, June 1, 2024 at 3:00 pm in Prosper Hall on the Coos Campus (1988 Newmark Ave., Coos Bay) during the annual sports awards. There will be food available following the ceremony. This event is free and open to the public.

The Hall of Fame Committee is seeking help in locating some of the team members. Anyone having information on the inductees marked with an asterisk (*) or have any other questions, please contact the Hall of Fame Committee at hof@socc.edu or 541-888-7452.



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