In the early design stages of Jungers Culinary Center, a wood-fired oven was a part of the conversation. Now a wood-fired oven, in addition to an outdoor kitchen, is in the works.
As their students continue to broaden their horizons with recipes and flavors, so does their need to access diverse techniques in food preparation. Every instructor at the Cascade Culinary Institute (CCI) has used a wood-fired oven at some point in their career, explained Thor Erickson, a culinary instructor at the Cascade Culinary Institute.
The outdoor kitchen will increase CCI kitchen space and provide an opportunity for the instructors to teach outside. The kitchen will be an asset to almost every CCI program according to Erickson.
“It really goes across our curriculum,” Erickson said.
Funding for the project will come from multiple sources, including private donors, according to Theresa Freihoefer, department head. An estimated expense was not available at the time of print.
The project is out for bids now, according to Freihoefer.
“Within the next month, we will be breaking ground,” Freihoefer said.
The only potential setback is the weather, according to Erickson. That problem can be solved with a snow shovel he adds.
“It’s part of the student experience,” Erickson said.
This outdoor kitchen will consist of a pizza oven, a plancha Grill, and plenty of counter space. Students will be able to learn food preparation, pizza making, and the art of wood burning. The plancha Grill is a grill that has a wheel that can move it closer to the flames or farther away.
The wood-fired oven and grill will be an incredible asset, Erickson said, broadening the menu with pizzas and flatbreads, in addition to wood-grilled meats, vegetables, and fruits.
“Building a fire is one of the first things that cooks in the early stages had to do before. Now we turn a knob and fire is very automatic,” Erickson said, “But actually building a fire and being able to control that heat helps students understand its use and the flavors that come from it.”
In addition to learning the basics about building fire and controlling heat, students will learn how wood imparts flavor to a wide variety of foods.
“The oven and the grill are going to be powered with fruit woods, like cherrywood and applewood, and honestly it makes food taste delicious,” Erickson said.
The outdoor kitchen will be beneficial to CCI, the Elevation restaurant and the larger COCC community, but ultimately will make students more marketable, according to Freihoefer.
“I think that a huge number of students are excited about the project,” Erickson said.
To make dining reservations at the student-operated restaurant, Elevation, visit www.elevationsbend.com. This award winning restaurant received the Diners’ Choice award in 2015 for the Best Overall, Best Ambiance, and Best Food categories in 2015. For more information call (541) 318-3735.
Kali Chapin | The Broadside