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Your Food Future Starts Here!

Your Food Future Starts Here!

Why enter the culinary profession?

“The industry is thriving,” says Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI) Director and Executive Chef Randy Torres.

The hunt for employees is on. That means there’s great opportunity.

“People are getting degrees and following careers they are passionate about,” Torres said.

Aspiring chefs want the training to expand their career options and where they can go throughout the world. OCCI is well known in the Pacific Northwest as a boutique, intimate program.

OCCI is home to the world champion ice carver, Chef Chris Foltz. Chef Torres is a U.S. Culinary Olympian. He guides SWOCC’s culinary competition team, which has been tops in the nation since 2019.

“Our program gives students a foundation to learn. All of our teaching comes from classical training,” Torres said. “What you learn here in how to make a sauce will be the same thing you learn at the Culinary Institute of America.”

This program pushes students out of their comfort zone to learn more than just how to cook. The 18-month intensive includes specialized training, the opportunity to compete, and two terms of directed-practice work experience.

The culinary field is changing. Thanks to COVID, there’s been an explosion of creativity and innovation. People are hungry for connection with others through food.

There are many pathways for trained chefs, Torres says. Students use skills from culinary school to step into unique careers and dream jobs. Some work in high-end resorts. Others start their own restaurants or food trucks. Some even aspire to become food social media influencers.

“You can look throughout the country at culinary programs, and everyone will have impressive bios. All are valuable,” Torres said. “Our college stands out, because our instructors take personal responsibility to help each of students hone their skills and succeed.”

Meet the Team

Top Chef

Randy Torres, CEC, AAC

American Culinary Federation Cutting Edge Award winner 2021

Our culinary school’s Executive Director Randy Torres is more than a nationally known executive chef and former ACF Chef Educator of the Year. He’s a coach. A mentor. He’s a man who knows there are no limits to hard work, creativity and excelling in the craft and culture of food.

Torres travels the U.S. and internationally talking with other pros in the industry. He competes internationally and brings back innovative ideas and trends to blend into classes. And, then he builds community in the OCCI kitchens, ensuring small classes and individual focus.

“If a student walks in right now and says ‘Hey Chef, I want to practice my cuts. If I have the product, I’m going to say yes. I want to invest care and time into our students. I know it’s going to pay off, no matter how you slice it.”

The Cheerleader

Shawn Marie Warren

Eight years at the culinary school

Combine a foodie and an educator, and that’s Shawn Marie Warren. As the culinary program’s coordinator of operations, Shawn Marie is the behind-the-scenes person. She schedules equipment repairs, tracks fiscals and keeps track of event logistics. She loves the beautiful setting of the culinary school, which is a great start to every day. Shawn Marie’s top priority, though, is being there for students. She’s great with advising and helping problem-solve. Best of all, she’s a good listener. She makes sure no student ever feels alone.

“I love each and every student and their story. Their favorite dishes to make. Why they got into culinary, where they aspire to go in life and where they land. We are all immersed here in what we like to do.”

The Cultivator

Chelsea Gaudette

Baking and pastry arts specialist, with a focus on coastal food

Chef Gaudette grew up mainly in Coos Bay. She worked her way through culinary school at OCCI as a dual major and took off to explore the greater world. Eventually, she returned to Coos Bay to build her dream life. Now teaching in SWOCC’s nationally renowned culinary school, Gaudette also is developing 40 acres into a farm and event venue.

Cultivation is at the center of her work. Her goal is to get students into the garden. She manages OCCI’s gardens, with work study student help. She also takes her students out to visit farms. They learn to pick produce and harvest local foods throughout the year. In the kitchen, Gaudette teaches the art of food preservation, which helps a chef save money and supports local farms.

She loves watching her students’ progress. “They come in very quiet and unsure of themselves, and grow to have confidence and comfort in the kitchen.”

Teacher Mentor

Laura Williams, CEC

Specializes in culinary, with an

emphasis on fine dining

Chef Williams found her love for cooking at a young age while creating unique dishes for her mother. As a young adult she followed her culinary passion to OCCI where she graduated with honors. While working at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort she joined the USA Culinary Youth Team.  Williams competed alongside her team in the World Culinary Olympics in Germany and brought home gold and silver medals. Laura moved to Houston, Texas and began her tenure at The Houston Country Club, focusing on culinary competitions and certifications. Eventually, Williams came back to Oregon as an Executive Chef at Awbrey Glen Golf Club in Bend. The exciting opportunity to teach brought her back to Southwestern, this time as an instructor.

“What I’m hoping to teach my students above all else is that there is so much more to becoming a Chef than just learning how to cook. Each day they learn how to work as a team, but also how to become a strong leader. I hope that I’m able to inspire my students to strive to be the best they can be and never stop learning.”

The Artist

Chris Foltz, CII, CPIS

Yes, 2021 and 2022 World Ice Art team champion!

Chef Foltz brings 25 years of real-world culinary technique and training into his classes at Southwestern. This Certified Master Ice Sculptor also leads the college’s competitive ice carving adventures.

Foltz’s path to culinary instructor started in an inner-city. He was a young kid headed the wrong way and needing a job. A family hired him to work in their restaurant. He started work in the kitchen and fell in love with it. He found a safe place, a close family, and good food. Foltz stayed in Baltimore for culinary school, then traveled the world cooking excellent food in amazing places: Vegas’ Mon Ami Gabi, the Nassau Yacht Club in the Bahamas. He even studied culinary in Ireland.

“What I really enjoyed in the industry was the intensity of it. Now, I enjoy being able to prepare young people for that reality and give them good tools to use. Hopefully they get past the hardships and into what people love about the career. There’s so much fun, family, art, and just work. It’s a great world. It absorbs you and becomes your life.”

 

 

Interested in the culinary program?

Text or Call 541-240-8227

SWOCCbound@socc.edu

Want to come to public food events at OCCI? Watch our social media for announcements.

A delicious life

A delicious life

OCCI alum is living the culinary dream

It’s been a long and winding road for Justin Wolf to reach the status of Executive Chef. Born and raised in Medford, Oregon, cooking was always a big part of his family and life. Even his senior project in high school involved cooking, teaching kids how to help with dinner. And as long as we’re mentioning family, Justin’s father, Michael works at the SWOCC Curry campus! 

Because his culinary journey began at Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI), graduating with honors in 2011 at age 19, we were very interested in ‘the rest of the story’. We caught up with Chef Wolf at his new gig, Executive Chef for Partake in Grants Pass. He had just finished baking the bread for the day and had a short break before preparations for the evening’s delicacies began.

OCCI: So first, tell us about the new restaurant, Partake Shop & Lounge.

Wolf: I’m so excited about Partake. It’s different. It’s not your average restaurant, lounge, or shop. It’s a bit of all three. We’re doing an upscale, small plate menu in the lounge, along with signature cocktails. I’m in charge of developing the menu and it’s constantly evolving. 

We also have an international bottle shop and wine tasting room on the premises. And in case that’s not enough to temp you, we house an artisan cheese shop too – which sells a lot more than just cheese. I bake the bread daily for the lounge and the cheese shop. And to top it off we’re located in a gorgeous historic building in downtown Grants Pass. We opened our doors on November 23, 2021.

OCCI: We checked out the menu on the website. It looks amazing. So now . . . let’s back up a bit and talk about the start of your career. Tell us what factors influenced your choice to come to OCCI for your culinary training.

Wolf: I love the coast, crabbing, fishing, the outdoors, the lake. As a family we used to visit the coast a lot when I was a kid. I still come as much as possible with my wife. And I love cooking with seafood so OCCI’s location was great for that. Being from out of the area, I needed to live on campus which ended up saving me a lot of money. I was looking for the most cost-effective culinary training. It was perfect, close enough to home, not too close, not too far away.

OCCI: Can you share something important that you learned at OCCI that you draw on now in your work?

Wolf: I remember distinctly my Interpersonal Communication class. That class proved invaluable when it comes to working in a kitchen with a lot of different people. My time at OCCI also taught me how to run an efficient kitchen.

OCCI: Do you remember a particular experience you had while at OCCI that really had an impact on you?

Wolf: One of the concepts that I was exposed to at OCCI that has really influenced my work is the farm-to-table principle. I’m committed to local, sustainable, and renewable practices. I also learned about the French sous vide technique of cooking. It’s a method where food is sealed in a pouch and then heated in a water bath. I saw it first demonstrated the day I toured OCCI. I’m obsessed with it and use it all the time.

OCCI: Chef Randy Torres was your instructor. What do you remember about Chef Torres?

Wolf: Chef Torres is very knowledgeable and approachable. I was intimidated by him at first because of his vast and impressive experience. But when you get to know him, he’s great.

OCCI: What was living in student housing like?

Wolf: Living on campus was fun. I made some great friends I still stay in contact with. I used to bring home leftovers and trade with the baking and pastry students that lived upstairs.

OCCI: Why would you recommend OCCI to people considering a career in the culinary arts?

Wolf: It’s an exceptional place! Especially for young people, who need to get a good base foundation of culinary skills.

OCCI: Now the experienced sage gets to pass on some advice to the younger set interested in a culinary career . . . 

Wolf: It took a lot of trial and error for me to get where I am today. I wasn’t afraid to leave a situation if I wasn’t growing. If it’s not the right fit, it’s time to go. Just look at my resume. I’ve worked at a lot of places and learned something different from each experience.

And . . . don’t take no for an answer when you find a restaurant you want to work at.

Does a delicious career in the culinary world sound good to you? Contact us today at 541-888-7309.

Chef Instructor Chris Foltz appears on Disney+ “Foodtastic”

Chef Instructor Chris Foltz appears on Disney+ “Foodtastic”

You never know where a career in culinary arts will take you. Perhaps even to Disney to be featured in an episode of “Foodtastic”. Chef Chris Foltz, a chef instructor for Southwestern’s Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI), got the opportunity to do just that!

“Foodtastic” is a global competition in which artists create “extravagant scene work and larger-than-life sculptures made entirely out of food,” according to a description provided by Disney.

Chef Foltz and other competitors took vegetables, butter, fruit, cheese and other everyday foods and transformed them into Disney-based sculptures and “food-scapes.” And since we’re talking about Chef Foltz, of course his creation included sculpted ice! After all, he did score the title 2021 World Champion Ice Sculptor Professional Division, at the 2021 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Each of the 11 episodes follows three teams that design and build the food art pieces, transforming iconic Disney characters into extravagant masterpieces telling a story.

The judges then select one winner per episode based on design, technical skills and narrative. The winning team in each episode gets a unique “Foodtastic”- inspired pin.

Chef Foltz along with his team, Trey Woods (a SWOCC alum) and friend and fellow chef Brian Edwards, competed in two episodes — one telling Simba’s story from “The Lion King” and another creating Chicken Day, Gonzo’s holiday from “The Muppets”.

“This was a great opportunity for us!” says Foltz. “The invitation from Disney Productions to participate in this new program made us very proud and grateful. My current culinary students were super excited to see me on TV. They’ve been full of questions about it.”

Student Carvers

Foltz coaches an elite group of culinary students on OCCI’s Collegiate Ice Team. They are currently gearing up to compete in the 2022 World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska in February. Making this years’ competition even more special, the team has been given the opportunity to carve a piece for the front entrance of the venue! 

Nick Graham, a second-year student who completed the Culinary Program and is currently in the Baking Program, will be working with Chef Foltz to defend his world title at the Championships this year. Graham has been with the ice team since he started at OCCI in 2020. We’re excited to see all the great work from these fantastic and dedicated students.

“Foodtastic” can be viewed on Disney+ with a subscription.

Photo left to right: Chef Brian Edwards, Chef Chris Foltz, Trey Woods

Oregon Coast Culinary Institute’s Competition Team takes National Title again in 2021

Oregon Coast Culinary Institute’s Competition Team takes National Title again in 2021

The 2021 ACF Student Team Members are Catherine Brown, Katherine Duncan, Elena Smith, Carter Philbrick, Shane Wilder, and Brayden Saranto.

The championship culinary team was coached by Chef Randy Torres, Executive Director of OCCI who was also awarded the ACF Cutting Edge Award, honoring his many years of coaching and work in the industry.

The four-course menu featured many local Oregon products, such as salmon, crab, chanterelle mushrooms, hazelnuts, cranberries, and coffee.

Course 1 – Appetizer: Sautéed wild salmon with a citrus herb crust and crab essence cream sauce, summer succotash, tart apple & curried Dungeness crab, bacon belly fritter. Petite herbs with cucumbers, charred lemon vinaigrette.

Course 2 – Salad: Variety of seasoned tomatoes, strawberry tomato bavarois, tomato granita. Goat cheese mousse, avocado puree, crispy quinoa. Tender greens tossed in red wine vinaigrette.

Course 3 – Main: Roasted coffee crusted Colorado lamb short loin, multi-tiered potato accompanied with stout ragù, a duo of parsnip puree and obliques tossed with hazelnuts and brown butter. Brussels sprouts with mustard and cranberry, summer chanterelles. Reduction of natural juices.

Course 4 – Finale – Dessert: Peach mousse, filled with raspberry gel and crispy white chocolate layer on a shortbread cookie. Bourbon glazed peach, lemon curd, peach pâté de fruit. Fizzy raspberry, quenelle of peach ice cream with raspberry sorbet and raspberry sauce.

An OCCI alumni student, Marissa Brazell, also competed on her own and won ACF Student Chef of the Year.

Since 1992, the ACF competition has molded students into young professionals. It has put to test the many skills learned in the classroom and, most importantly, inspired young culinarians to dream big and work tirelessly to achieve their goals. Competitors learn valuable skills, from time management to working on a team, that carry them into successful careers. One of the main goals of the competition is to raise the standards of culinary excellence and professionalism.

For over 20 years now, ACF’s young chefs-in-training have risen to the challenge, and each year they continue to heighten expectations.

Other teams that participated in the competition were from Grayson College; Fort Drum Military Team; International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach; The Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College; Metropolitan Community College’s Institute of the Culinary Arts; Asheville-Buncombe Tech Community College.

 

To learn more about Southwestern’s culinary and baking & pastry programs call us today at 541-888-7611; or text OCCI to 541-240-8227 for more information or to schedule a tour.

 

Oregon Coast Culinary Institute’s Competition Team takes National Title again in 2021

Coos Bay, OR – Southwestern Oregon Community College is pleased to announce that once again, Oregon Coast Culinary Institute’s (OCCI) competition team has placed first in the nation among collegiate competitors. The team was able to hold the title most recently won in 2019 as the competition was canceled in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The team worked tirelessly for months in preparation for the event held recently in Orlando at the American Culinary Federation (ACF) National Convention.

The 2021 ACF Student Team Members are Catherine Brown, Katherine Duncan, Elena Smith, Carter Philbrick, Shane Wilder, and Brayden Saranto.

The championship culinary team was coached by Chef Randy Torres, Executive Director of OCCI who was also awarded the ACF Cutting Edge Award, honoring his many years of coaching and work in the industry.

The four-course menu featured many local Oregon products, such as salmon, crab, chanterelle mushrooms, hazelnuts, cranberries, and coffee.

Course 1 – Appetizer: Sautéed wild salmon with a citrus herb crust and crab essence cream sauce, summer succotash, tart apple & curried Dungeness crab, bacon belly fritter. Petite herbs with cucumbers, charred lemon vinaigrette.

Course 2 – Salad: Variety of seasoned tomatoes, strawberry tomato bavarois, tomato granita. Goat cheese mousse, avocado puree, crispy quinoa. Tender greens tossed in red wine vinaigrette.

Course 3 – Main: Roasted coffee crusted Colorado lamb short loin, multi-tiered potato accompanied with stout ragù, a duo of parsnip puree and obliques tossed with hazelnuts and brown butter. Brussels sprouts with mustard and cranberry, summer chanterelles. Reduction of natural juices.

Course 4 – Finale – Dessert: Peach mousse, filled with raspberry gel and crispy white chocolate layer on a shortbread cookie. Bourbon glazed peach, lemon curd, peach pâté de fruit. Fizzy raspberry, quenelle of peach ice cream with raspberry sorbet and raspberry sauce.

An OCCI alumni student, Marissa Brazell, also competed on her own and won ACF Student Chef of the Year.

Since 1992, the ACF competition has molded students into young professionals. It has put to test the many skills learned in the classroom and, most importantly, inspired young culinarians to dream big and work tirelessly to achieve their goals. Competitors learn valuable skills, from time management to working on a team, that carry them into successful careers. One of the main goals of the competition is to raise the standards of culinary excellence and professionalism.

For over 20 years now, ACF’s young chefs-in-training have risen to the challenge, and each year they continue to heighten expectations.

Other teams that participated in the competition were from Grayson College; Fort Drum Military Team; International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach; The Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College; Metropolitan Community College’s Institute of the Culinary Arts; Asheville-Buncombe Tech Community College.

To learn more about Southwestern’s culinary and baking & pastry programs visit www.socc.edu/occi.

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