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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.

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