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The faculty at Oregon Culinary Institute is comprised of not only chefs, but of chef instructors

Oregon Culinary Institute’s founders and faculty share two things in common – a passion for food, and a commitment to education. The instructors are loaded with experience – from kitchens, from classrooms, and from the industry. They are not only chefs and entrepreneurs, but they’re experienced educators – inspired by knowledge and passionate about teaching.

Eric Stromquist

Eric Stromquist

Campus President, Oregon Culinary Institute
Bachelor of Science in Political Science,
Portland State University, Portland, OR

Eric Stromquist has been in and around the hospitality industry for over 30 years. A Portland native, he began his career with the McCormick & Schmick organization, first waiting tables at Jake’s Famous Crawfish Restaurant, later at McCormick’s Fish House, and eventually serving as Director of Operations for Jake’s Famous Products. Four years later Stromquist, together with three partners, developed the concept and wrote the business plan for Hot Lips Pizza, a chain of pizza-by-the-slice restaurants that grew to seven stores in four years. For the next five years, Stromquist taught for Portland Community College and worked with restaurant clients as a start-up business and operations consultant. He then developed Zeebento, a popular Japanese box lunch venture in downtown Portland, and in 1996 began teaching dining room service and wine studies at Western Culinary Institute. By 1998, he was acting as Administrative Dean, and accepted the position of Director of Education in January of 1999. Over the next five years, as the chief academic officer of the school, he oversaw implementation of their landmark partnership with Le Cordon Bleu, the addition of Hospitality & Restaurant Management and Pâtisserie and Baking programs, and the achievement of associate degree-granting status. In April of 2006, Stromquist partnered with Brian Wilke and Pioneer Pacific College to open Oregon Culinary Institute. He now serves as Campus President for the school which offers diplomas and degrees in Culinary Arts, Baking and Pastry, and Restaurant Management. Stromquist is certified as a Foodservice Management Professional by the National Restaurant Association.

Chef Brian Wilke

Chef Brian Wilke, CEC, CCE

Executive Chef
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, High Honors, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

Born and raised in Chicago, Chef Brian Wilke has been interested in cooking and good food all of his life. While traveling the world between 1984 and 1994, he studied international cuisine with local chefs and developed an appreciation for the wide variety of ingredients and cooking methods used in various cultures. An extended trip to India, a tour of Southeast Asia, and repeated trips to Mexico have made him particularly adept at preparing cuisine from those regions. To cement his knowledge and experience, Wilke enrolled in Western Culinary Institute in the spring of 1994. He graduated a year later at the top of his class, and was immediately hired by the school to be an instructor. In 2000 he was promoted to executive chef, having full responsibility for all kitchen lab and restaurant operations. Chef Wilke was also involved in the training and supervision of nearly 60 full-time faculty members, as well as management for a population of more than 800 students, until he left in November 2005. Aside from school responsibilities he and his wife, Jill, have owned and operated Peacock Catering since 1998. Chef Wilke has also served as the private chef for a prominent Portland family since 2000. His professional designations include Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator by the American Culinary Federation.

Ray Colvin

Ray Colvin

Director of Operations
Master’s in Business Administration, Marylhurst University, Marylhurst, OR
Bachelor of Science, Sociology, Willamette University, Salem, OR

Ray Colvin joins Oregon Culinary Institute after serving eight years at Western Culinary Institute in various positions, most recently as Dean of Hospitality & Restaurant Management. Prior to that he was Vice President of Academics and Student Services, Dean of Students, and Educational Director of the Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality & Restaurant Management program. Before joining Western Culinary Institute, Colvin worked in senior management, including as a regional vice president and owner, for three nationally recognized hospitality organizations including Piatti Restaurant Group, McCormick & Schmick’s Management Group, and The Holland Corporation. At Oregon Culinary Institute, Colvin is responsible for management of the school’s facilities and restaurant, as well as acting dean of students. He is also significantly involved in new program development.

Chef Christian Haldeman

Christian Haldeman

Director of Education
Diploma in Culinary Arts, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

With over 20 years experience, Chef Christian Haldeman has held management positions in both large and small-scale kitchens with duties including cost and labor control, production, and sanitation and safety; for buffet, banquet, and fine dining settings. Graduating from Western Culinary Institute in 1998, he later became an associate instructor for the Garde Manger Kitchen. Most recently at the University Club of Portland, he managed the A La Carte Kitchen and production before being promoted to sous chef. Chef Haldeman’s professional honors and designations include Associate Instructor of the Month at Western Culinary Institute, Coach to Junior Culinary Team resulting in Third in State and ACF Bronze Medals, and two bronze and four silver medals in NICA international ice carving events.

Tom Bethel

Tom Bethel

Program Director
BA in Theatre, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA

Tom Bethel brings 25 years in the restaurant industry to Oregon Culinary Institute. He began his career in Los Angeles in high-pressure, high-profile restaurants such as the upscale, classic Hollywood Lawry’s Westside Broiler; the cutting-edge City Restaurant; and Wolfgang Puck’s infamous Spago. There, as Captain, besides being part of the extremely busy, 150-seat establishment, he organized the operation of catered events for up to 500 guests. Tom developed knowledge and an affinity for Northwest food and wines at Eugene’s fine-dining establishment Excelsior Cafe, and his career eventually brought him to Portland as Dining Room Manager in charge of wine inventory and operations at La Mirabelle. As Captain at the Heathman Restaurant, with Chef Philippe Boulot, he led all servers in wine, spirits, and food sales, a tradition woven throughout his career. For the last 13 years Bethel has been at the James Beard Award-winning Higgins Restaurant, where as General Manager he led all front-of-the-house operations including staff, systems, and inventory – while promoting local and sustainable fine dining with hospitality and service excellence.

Chef Josh Blythe

Josh Blythe

Program Director
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, New England Culinary Institute, Montpelier, VT

Chef Josh Blythe has over 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry. Starting as a dishwasher and prep cook and advancing to line cook and kitchen manager, Chef Blythe worked his way up in kitchens in New England and Colorado before deciding to go to culinary school at the New England Culinary Institute. After finishing school in 1998 he moved to Portland to work at James Beard Award-winning Wildwood Restaurant and Bar as a roundsman. He graduated to sous chef at Paley’s Place Bistro and Bar, then executive chef of 750ml. In 2002 he became a chef at Ripe, the nationally acclaimed entity that introduced family-supper concept to a retail market, later moving to Genoa where he was menu chef for their signature seven-course prix fixe dinners. While at Ripe and Genoa, he and his wife formed Feast, a private dining business specializing in high-end cuisine for in-home dinner parties. Chef Blythe was most recently the founding executive chef at Roux which he opened with his wife and two partners. Roux was a highly acclaimed Portland restaurant which garnered rave reviews both locally and nationally while Chef Blythe was at the helm.

Chef Maxine Borcherding

Maxine Borcherding

Lead Chef Instructor
Certified Sommelier and Certified Spanish Wine Educator / BA in Biology, Lake Forest College, Lake Forest, IL / Masters in Public Administration, Honors, Roosevelt University, Chicago,IL

Chef Maxine Borcherding has over 23 years of experience in catering, restaurant management, and consulting to the hospitality industry. In 1985 she co-founded The Best of Everything Catering Company and Cafe. In 1992 she founded Smart Bytes, a consulting firm specializing in software application for the hospitality industry, and in 1995 established a catering division. She has extensive industry experience and professional associations including two years as legislative committee chair and legislative liaison for ACEP (Association of Caterers and Event Professionals); and 16 years as a board member of Potluck in the Park. She was most recently at Western Culinary Institute where she taught Professional Communications and Hospitality Business Law for the Hospitality and Restaurant Management program and was awarded Instructor of the Year in 2004; and in 2006 placed third among nominees from Culinary, Hospitality and Restaurant Management, and Pastry and Baking divisions of thirteen Le Cordon Bleu culinary schools as Career Education Corporation Instructor of the Year. Chef Borcherding is a certified Spanish Wine educator.

Chef Daniel Brophy

Daniel Brophy

CEC, CCE, Lead Chef Instructor
BA in Biology, University of Sioux Falls, SD

Chef Brophy’s culinary employment encompasses 34 years in food service from dishwasher through executive chef, including ten years with Jake’s Famous Crawfish and the McCormick and Schmick organization as sous chef and executive chef, and eighteen years of formal classroom instructing. Diverse hands-on experience includes teaching, catering, and private chefing. Chef Brophy has worked for both large corporations and individual owners, with responsibilities including research, recipe development, menus design and extensive costing. As an edible inner-tidal specialist, he leads field trips during negative tides to expose students to sustainable life at the tertiary level. His wide-ranging garden and back-yard projects include providing trick vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, wild mushrooms, heirloom turkeys and organic eggs for local restaurants and culinary schools. Chef Brophy’s professional honors and designations include ACF Certified Executive Chef and Certified Culinary Educator; ACF Chapter President 1998-2005 Pacific NW Chapter of Portland; Chefs Collaborative Member; Oregon Mycological Society Member; Oregon Tilth Member; Instructor of the Year 2003, Western Culinary Institute; ACF and Le Cordon Bleu Schools member, winning Professional Knowledge Bowl Team 2003 and 2004.

Chef Randall Cronwell

Randall Cronwell

Chef Instructor
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

With over 40 years experience in the hospitality, restaurant, and retail grocery industry, Chef Randall Cronwell began his career in California working for Chef Jeremiah Towers at the Santa Fe Bar & Grill and Stars restaurant in San Francisco. In Portland at the Riverplace Alexis Hotel, he was promoted to sous chef shortly after starting. After several years he began his teaching career as a chef instructor at Western Culinary Institute, where he taught Introduction to Culinary Arts and A La Carte/Retail for their deli/diner operation. He worked next with Fred Carlo at Salumeria de Carlo, a wholesale/retail sausage business, then Viande Meats & Sausage Co., a business he owned and operated for many years. The managing chef at Armadillo Catering Company in Portland, and most recently the executive chef at Springwater Grill in Portland, Chef Cronwell has a wealth of experience.

Beau Culpepper

Chef Instructor
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, with High Honors, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

After graduation from Western Culinary Institute, Chef Beau Culpepper moved to Charleston, South Carolina, to work at the famed Cypress as sous chef under the tutelage of Chef Craig Deihl, who was later to become American Culinary Federation’s Chef of the Year. Chef Culpepper moved back to Portland to become Chef de Cuisine for Clarklewis, and later Chef de Cuisine for Lincoln, before coming to Oregon Culinary Institute. He has been part of teams featured in Art Culinaire, Bon Appetit, and The New York Times, and in 2010 prepared dinner at the prestigious James Beard House in New York City.

Donald Dunbar

Bachelor of Arts, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, Arizona State University, Tempe Arizona

A Michigan native, Donald Dunbar moved to Portland in 2006, and runs the poetry reading series If Not For Kidnap. He has published two small chapbooks of poems, and many poems in journals (including Action, Yes!; Diagram; Poor Claudia; and Slope). He teaches English courses and Diversity in Communications at Oregon Culinary Institute.

Salvatore Hall

Lead Chef Instructor
Diploma in Culinary Arts, with High Honors, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

Chef Salvatore Hall’s passion for producing great food, along with an abiding dedication to the craft, began with his education at culinary school. He graduated at the top of his class with a 4.0 GPA from Western Culinary Institute’s Le Cordon Bleu Program, spending his externship at the famed restaurant Higgins, a Portland institution. He quickly moved from line cook to pastry chef, head baker at Florio Bakery and Pâtisserie Lili, then kitchen manager at the prestigious Crema Bakery & Café in Portland. Chef Hall brings a diverse background and wide-ranging experience in culinary arts and baking and pastry. He is a member of the Chefs Collaborative.

Chef Melanie Hammericksen

Melanie Hammericksen

Chef Instructor
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, with High Honors, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

Chef Melanie Hammericksen began her career after school as a prep cook and server for Soup to Nuts Catering in Medford, Oregon, then two years later became the manager at C.K. Tiffins, a popular natural foods fine-dining restaurant in Medford as well. After six years she moved to Portland where she became the lead server and head trainer at the Multnomah Athletic Club’s fine dining restaurant. Most recently, prior to joining Oregon Culinary Institute, Chef Hammericksen was pastry chef for ¡Oba! Restaurante, in Portland, where she created the pastry menus, prepared desserts, and trained new staff; and has since served as pastry chef and consultant for Fratelli.

Josh Hobson

Chef Instructor
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

Chef Josh Hobson, a graduate of Western Culinary Institute, specializes in international cooking and cuisines of the world. With travels throughout Asia, Europe, Middle East, North America and the Caribbean, Chef Hobson has studied with chefs and attended cooking classes in places such as Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong and Nepal. This experience prepared Chef Hobson for teaching the International Cuisine Class at Western Culinary Institute for over five years, and teaching cooking classes at Sur La Table for over four years. Before accepting the teaching positions, Chef Hobson worked in many locations, from breakfast cook to roundsman, culminating in accepting a position as executive sous chef for the historic Multnomah Hotel where he oversaw banquet facilities and focused on fusing Asian flavors and techniques with the freshness and subtle flavors of the Pacific Northwest.

Chef Ken Narcavage

Ken Narcavage

Chef Instructor
BS in Business Economics, Willamette University, Salem, OR

AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Portland, OR
Chef Ken Narcavage’s career began over 17 years ago, when he graduated from culinary school. Two of his first jobs, as sous chef in Bellevue, and at Seventeen-Seventeen in Dallas, led to Wolfgang Puck’s Café in Los Angeles as kitchen manager, and eventually to the award-winning Pizzaioli Ristorante Italiano in Chino. For 11 years prior to joining Oregon Culinary Institute, Chef Narcavage shared his passion for cooking in the classroom – as lead instructor at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. He is a member of Friends of Family Farmers.

Chef Robert Parks

Robert Parks

Lead Chef Instructor
Le Cordon Bleu Diplôme, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, France

Chef Robert Parks is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, and has over 35 years experience in professional baking and pastry including 11 years of service as executive pastry chef at the Fairmont Hotel and the Pan Pacific Hotel, both in San Francisco. He was chef instructor and department chair for over 14 years at the California Culinary Academy, where he designed and implemented the program, authored the accompanying textbook, and was selected as CCA Instructor of the Year in 2001. In 2003 he joined Western Culinary Institute where he was responsible for the development and implementation of the Baking and Pastry programs. Chef Parks’ professional honors and designations include Certification in Safety, Sanitation, and Nutrition, as well as Certified Executive Pastry Chef by the ACF.


Bikram Vaidya

Chef Instructor
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, with Honors, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

Chef Bikram Vaidya has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. It all started in Nepal where he created and managed a successful bar and restaurant, and taught cooking classes. Chef Vaidya has trained under renowned chefs in North America, Greece, Thailand, Peru, Hong Kong and India, and has worked in Reno, Nevada at Hotel El Dorado and in San Francisco at Farallon. Chef Vaidya’s most recent experience is at Western Culinary Institute where he taught International Cuisine courses, and his professional honors and designations include Certification by the Hilton Hotel Bartending School and Guest Satisfaction Training, along with completion of His Majesty’s Government Hotel Management and Tourism Training in Nepal. He is a member of the ACF and the Nepali Association of Oregon.

Paul Warner

Chef Instructor
AOS Degree in Culinary Arts, The Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, NY

In seven short years after graduation, Chef Paul Warner became executive chef for Tiffany Foodservice in Portland, eventually moving to McCormick’s Fish House in Denver as their executive chef. He spent the last twelve years as Executive Chef at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, where he managed food production for two restaurants and catering functions with responsibilities including costing, labor, purchasing, inventory, and scheduling, as well as implementation of composting and recycling programs.

Ramona White

Chef Instructor
Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology, State University of New York at New Paltz, NY AAS Degree in Culinary Arts, Johnson and Wales University, Vail, CO

Chef Ramona White began her career in a high-school apprenticeship for Chef John Massey in Maine, then worked her way through college for Chef Nabil Attie in New York. After college she moved to New Orleans, where she was chef at Lucy’s, then to Colorado to pursue her degree in Culinary Arts. While there she worked at the famed Radisson Hotel and for Vail Associates. After graduation, she became catering chef for Oregon Electric Station, then dining room manager for Compass Café. She was most recently at Western Culinary Institute where she taught Kitchen Management and Hospitality & Restaurant Management. Chef White is chef/owner of Nourishment, which she founded in 1999, and her professional affiliations include WCR, the Chef’s Collaborative, and Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

Chef Wednesday Wild-Wilson

Wednesday Wild-Wilson

Chef Instructor
Diploma in Culinary Arts, with High Honors, Western Culinary Institute, Portland, OR

Chef Wednesday Wild-Wilson graduated from Western Culinary Institute’s Le Cordon Bleu Program, while beginning her culinary arts career at the Multnomah Athletic Club as prep cook and tournant. Her externship with school was spent at Portland’s famed Paley’s Place where she ended up spending over six years working all stations, managing purveyor connections, contributing to International Pinot Noir Celebrations and local fundraisers such as Taste of the Nation, and designing and creating a nine-item dessert menu. One of Chef Wild-Wilson’s claims to fame is having assisted Chef Paley with the 2006 James Beard Dinner in New York City. She is also published, having contributed to the popular The Paley’s Place Cookbook and Sara Perry’s Deep Dark Chocolate.

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