The sweet and savory business of culinary

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Conversations series event highlights food business in SW Washington


Do you grill a mouth-watering caprese filet mignon or savory lemon Parmesan roasted broccoli? Is there a dish you do so well that your friends have told you to open a restaurant? How would you learn the basic tenets of running a business?

These types of entrepreneurial topics were touched on during an event at the home of Rick Takach and Kari Jonassen. Takach is a board member for Clark College Foundation.

The evening brought together a group of people devoted to cuisine, professional baking and Clark College. The occasion was part of a series of events Clark College Foundation is holding this year called Conversations that showcases Clark College’s programs, alumni, students and faculty.

Clark College is currently remodeling its culinary facility and will welcome a new group of students this fall that will be the first to test the college’s new cuisine and professional baking and pastry arts curriculums.

Clark College Foundation is accepting donations for the $10.5 million culinary project. To learn about the opportunities to be a part of this exciting endeavor, click to email Joel B. Munson.

The August 8 Conversations was led by Aaron Guerra, Clark’s executive chef and Cuisine department head, Alison Dolder ’12 Clark Professional Baking and Pastry Arts professor, Earl Frederick, lead cuisine instructor, and Daryl Oest, cuisine instructor.

Guests from local businesses and community leaders asked questions about the future of the culinary industry in Clark County and Southwest Washington, job training, how best to develop skills essential to the industry and turning a job into a career.

Takach, head of Clark’s culinary fundraising committee, shared the college’s journey of bringing the culinary program back to campus. He was joined by Robert K. Knight, Clark College president, and Lisa Gibert, Clark College Foundation president/CEO.

“When we decided to shut down, we wanted to do it right,” said Takach. “The remodel was critical to creating a space where the community can be part of the learning experience.”

The Culinary program shut down in 2015, so that the college could remodel the building and revamp the curriculum. Clark College Foundation is partnering with the college to raise $10.5 million to modernize the building. In May 2016, the foundation announced a $4 million lead gift from The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Family Foundation for the project.

The new program helps train executive chefs, catering managers, restaurant managers or individuals interested in food-related small businesses. The new facility provides hands-on experience in a production kitchen, retail bakery, food kiosks and a full-service dining room. Clark’s Culinary program is the only state-supported program within 120 miles of Vancouver, making it both convenient and a great educational investment.

The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Culinary Institute will open to the campus and public in September 2017.


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