(Update: Added video, comments from US Coast Guardsman, Associate Professor)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) – There are a few kitchens at the Jungers Culinary Center on the campus of Central Oregon Community College. The building on campus houses the Cascade Culinary Institute. The program works closely with the US Coast Guard, which sends active duty personnel to the school for leader training.
COCC Associate Professor of Culinary Arts Thor Erickson said: “When these students come to us, they come to us for a two-year diploma program. “What’s really exciting is that we are teaching these students to return to the Coast Guard. and become cooking teachers themselves.”
Erickson added, “Here at Cascade Culinary, we are very pleased to have a relationship with the United States Coast Guard.”
In fact, “CCI has become the Coast Guard’s preferred choice,” according to Department Chair and Culinary Instructor Wayne Yeatman.
CCI offers degree and certificate programs in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry Arts, and Hospitality Management.
“I’ve always loved cooking,” said US Coast Guard Cutter Adrian Diel. “I cooked a lot at home. I really thought, ‘Wow, maybe I can do this job, day in and day out.’
Diel has been part of CCI for a year and a half.
There have been four “Coasties”, an informal term used by many, in the culinary program over the past three years, starting a new student each year.
“Originally, I was only going to enroll for four years — get a GI Bill, get out and go to college,” Diel said. “After almost 12 years, I decided to stay and make it my job, because I really like this job.”
He says he discovered the job of a culinary specialist while at Coast Guard boot camp.
“When you’re selected for the Coast Guard Higher Education Program, you can choose where you want to go for culinary school,” Diel said. “I hadn’t even heard of Bend before this, but everyone highly recommended this school.”
“The coolest thing about being a cook in the Coast Guard is that you get judged three times a day, but in the best possible way. It’s like cooking for your family,” he said. -he declares.
Erickson told me that last year COCC had nearly 500 students who served in the military.