Culinary Arts dept. gets exemplary status

Orange Coast College’s Culinary Arts department achieves exemplary status and continued accreditation for four programs.

There’s a lot cooking in Orange Coast College’s Culinary Arts department.

The department was awarded exemplary status recently in all four of its certificate programs — Basic Culinary Arts, Advanced Culinary Arts, as well as Basic and Advanced Baking/Pastry by The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission.

Along with exemplary status comes a seven-year accreditation renewal for all four programs. The federation’s verdict came after a three-day, on-campus analysis of the kitchen facility’s cleanliness, the curriculum and process of the students in the program.

When asked about the self-study requirement for the accreditation, culinary arts instructor and chef Bill Barber pulled three large textbooks of guidelines out from under his desk. Along with basic skills and competence and a minimum number of hours in the kitchen per course, the self-study had to indicate how the kitchen runs and what curriculum was taught.

“It really was a team effort,” Barber said about the self-examination process. “The whole team came together, staff and students, as well as the dean [of Consumer Health Sciences] Jane McLaughlin.”  

Barber has worked in the department since 1990 and has overseen many changes throughout, most notably a separate certificate specific to baking and pastries overseen by instructor Melissa Simpson. Other changes to come are a new building with expanded kitchen spaces and new equipment.

As everyone pitched in to follow the accreditation template, it showed the competency and versatility in a restaurant environment stemming from required classes like Food Service Math and Accounting as well as a Dining Room Service class and a Human Resources class, Barber said.

This restaurant experience is apparent when looking at Culinary Arts alum who are working in the industry everywhere from Disneyland to the Ritz Carlton.  

Notable alumni include the co-founder of Lazy Dog Cafe and the head chef at Selanni’s Steakhouse on Pacific Coast Highway. Many culinary students also regularly place in the American Culinary Federation’s annual Student Teams competition, along with their friendly rivals at an Oregon community college whose director is also an OCC alum.

Studying at one of America’s premiere culinary schools, The Culinary Institute of America, Barber has not only conducted the teaching of classic techniques like chopping, dicing, measuring and mixing, but also those of presentation.

“It’s about the application of these techniques in a practical manner,” Barber said.  

For a firsthand example of this program, stop by the Captain’s Table Restaurant, the department’s on campus restaurant, on Thursdays to see what OCC students have to offer.

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