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Aug 5, 2013From Small Town to Culinary Meccaby oci-admin1

Watch OCI Advanced Baking and Pastry Instructor Salvatore Hall talk about his culinary career and his passion for teaching at OCI.

Feb 5, 2013Digging In at the Oregon Truffle Festivalby oci-admin1

White Truffles

As a budget-minded culinary student, truffles just don’t typically make it onto my weekly shopping list. In fact, I’d be hard pressed to think of a time I’ve ever cooked with even truffle butter or oil. So when Chef Instructor Maxine Borcherding asked for student volunteers to help at the Oregon Truffle Festival, I jumped on board.

This is why I love volunteering for events through Oregon Culinary Institute. It’s great exposure to ingredients that I might not otherwise work with. Not only that, it’s a fantastic way to assimilate oneself with the Portland culinary scene. You get to work with amazing chefs, make connections, learn new techniques and ideas, and you almost always get fed!

The Oregon Truffle Festival lasts an entire weekend of January, with many events, workshops, lectures, and meals. We were to assist with a cooking class and luncheon out in Monroe, Oregon.  The luncheon was prepared by Chef Dustin Clark of Wildwood Restaurant. He was just hands-down amazing. Chef Clark took the time to show us proper technique, explained the reason for his ingredient choices, encouraged us to taste and dissect his food, and made sure we left well fed. He even offered us his spare truffles to take home. My favorite dish was his Roasted Sunchoke Veloute with White Truffle. He meticulously layered the use of truffle through out his soup, so the aroma was deep and complex.

Chef Instructor Maxine Borcherding and students with Chef Clark of Wildwood

This was my first exposure to a truffle shaver. Since even the smallest morsel of a truffle is something to savor, this device is used to yield paper-thin slices. It looks like a cross between a cheese slicer and a mandolin, with a gage to adjust thickness. I began to think of what else this simple could be used for around my kitchen. Shaved shallots? Garlic? Parmesan? Chocolate?

A Black Truffle Getting a Close Shave

While half of my classmates helped Chef Clark in the kitchen, the rest of us delivered plates of food to a very eager audience of diners. It was such a pleasure to see faces light up when we dropped off a plate of beautifully composed food. As we made the rounds to clear tables in between courses, many of the guests were resistant to give us their dishes. They were determined to scrape every last morsel of truffle goodness off of their plates!

The icing on the cake was getting to meet a test kitchen director of a well-known food magazine. Working in a test kitchen is my dream job, and with the encouragement of Chef Maxine, I mustered up the courage to go and speak with her. After gushing in the director’s general direction for several minutes, she warmly encouraged me to apply for her internship. I wrote to her the next day. Now, just a week later, I’m shopping for plane tickets for my big interview in New York City. I feel incredibly lucky and blessed. Even if nothing comes of my interview, I just can’t believe the exposure and opportunity volunteering has afforded me.

Sarah Ruth Maier is a culinary management student, currently in her second term in the kitchen. After receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Theater, she took a job at a small family deli to make ends meet. Working with food swiftly became a passion, leading to work as a cheesemonger. She found out about Oregon Culinary Institute online, and made her dream a reality when she began classes in July of 2012. Her interest is in recipe testing, food writing, and catering.

Dec 5, 2012OCI Students Help “Potluck in the Park” Make the Winter Warmby oci-admin1

On Thursday, November 30 2012, a group of Oregon Culinary Institute students made three different soups for the “Winter Warm” fundraiser and concert by Tom Grant benefiting Potluck in the Park.  From the Potluck in the Park website:  ”Rain or shine, 52 weeks a year, hundreds of needy people have a hot meal and a community gathering place because generous supporters understand food is a human right and hunger is a human wrong. Every Sunday for twenty-one years Potluck in the Park volunteers have prepared and served healthy wholesome meals with dignity and kindness. The secret to Potluck in the Park’s staying power is the story of its people.  Our tenacious teams of career-volunteers have inspired thousands of other volunteers to donate their time, talent and money.  Their dedication and passion has made Potluck in the Park a touchstone for a community in crisis.”

OCI has had a strong tie to this worthy cause since the school opened in 2006 because Restaurant Management Instructor Maxine Borcherding has been a big part of this organization for years. We asked her a few questions about her involvement.

How did your relationship with “Potluck in the Park begin?”

“In just their 2nd year, I got a call from David Utzinger who was helping to run it. They had done 1st year anniversary party and the caterer from the first year wasn’t available, so I got a call and he told me all about ‘Potluck.’  He asked if I could help. I ended up doing it for 18 years, plus I joined the board and did a bunch of fundraising for them.”

What made you keep doing it for all those years?

“We feed people, that’s what we do.  When people are hungry and in need…our instinct is to feed them.  Not just homeless, but working people trying to make ends meet.  There were a lot of elderly and working people in between jobs or whose paychecks were stretched out… a lot of musicians too.  It’s 52 weeks, rain or shine.  And on Christmas Day.”

OCI Students Serving their Squash and Sweet Potato Soup

OCI Students Serving their Squash and Sweet Potato Soup to “Winter Warm” Guests

The “Winter Warm” organizer, Steve DeAngelo of DeAngelo’s Catering, approached OCI in September to ask if we would like to participate in this worthy cause.   We asked Steve to share a little information about his involvement in “Potluck in the Park” and the “Winter Warm” event.

What is your role in Potluck in the Park?

“DeAngelo’s Catering has supported ‘Potluck in the Park’ for 20 years. As a caterer, having and outlet for leftover foods is a constant requirement we have employed to align our company’s sustainability mission. I am now Board Chair for the organization donating time, funding, food and leadership.”

What made you think of contacting OCI to help with “Winter Warm?”

“We know OCI has been connected to ‘Potluck in the Park’ for many years in a variety of capacity. (OCI Chef Instructor) Maxine Borcherding, someone I have known my entire 30 year career as a mentor and chef, was involved for many years. We had held the event at a venue that had generously donated the space and the food service for five years, but recently lost their lease. We managed to get another venue donated for the occasion but it was shut down by the city. At that point we were forced to relocate and decided a downtown venue was most desirable. I believe it was Tom Grant’s idea to look into the Tiffany Center (operated by Georgia Raferti of Raferti’s Catering). When we reached out to Georgia, she was connected as well to ‘Potluck in the Park’ and allowed us the opportunity to bring in whatever we could source to soften our expenses. We were able to capture the venue at a huge discount; however that was a new line item added to our budget. The concept behind a peasant style meal (soup) was brainstormed by our committee as a good alliance for this event.

How much did “Winter Warm” raise?
Almost $25,000.

Any final thoughts on OCI’s involvement and/or the event itself?
I thought the students were excellent, well engaged and brought a huge contribution to the cause. Overall we learned a lot that we are excited to move forward….

OCI Students at Potluck the Park’s “Winter Warm” Concert and Fundraiser



Squash and Sweet Potato Soup(vegan and gluten free)

Emelio and Francesca at their Soup Station

By Emelio Sansone, Rachael Hanna, Francesca Small

12 oz Vegetable Stock
16 oz Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
4 oz Onion
2 oz Celery
2 oz Leek
2 T Olive Oil
1 lb Sweet Potatoes
1 lb Butternut Squash
Salt (as needed to taste)
Pepper (as needed to taste)
1 ea Lemon Juice
4 fl oz Balsamic Vinegar
4 fl oz Maple Syrup
Spiced Oats (as needed for garnish)
Cranberries or Raisins (as needed for garnish)


1. Peel sweet potatoes and squash, rough cut them and roast at 350 degrees until tender.
2. Sweat white mirepoix (celery, onion, leek) with olive oil in a medium saucepot. Add stock, then bring to a boil, then simmer to reduce for about 25 minutes. Add coconut milk, bring to a low simmer.
3. In a blender or food processor, puree the roasted sweet potatoes, then combine them in the sauce pot with the soup using a whisk. Add salt, lemon juice, and dried ginger. Turn heat to low in a small saucepot, combine the maple syrup and the balsamic vinegar and reduce until it has the consistency of molasses.
4. Use the reduction, oats and fruit as a garnish.


Seafood Gumbo

Sarah and Dennis at Their Soup Station

By Dennis Nylin, Sarah Tomlinson, Sam Hamilton

2T Canola Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
9 oz Diced tomatoes
1 ½ cup onion
½ cup celery
1 cup Green Bell pepper
2 Qt Chicken stock
1 lb Okra
6 oz Butter
5 oz Flour
1 cup Rice (long grain)
Cayenne pepper (as needed)
Salt (as needed)
Black pepper (as needed)
1 Sachet d’épices (a small cheesecloth sack of herbs and spices, as follows)
* 2 ea Bay Leaves
* 1 sprig Thyme
* 10-12 Peppercorns
* 1 Bunch Parsley
1 lb Rock shrimp
4 oz Crab meat
4 oz Crawfish tails
4 oz Fresh oysters
Green onion (garnish)
Gumbo filé (garnish)


1. Heat oil in 4 Qt stockpot. Sauté onion, celery, bell pepper until veggies are tender. Add garlic, tomatoes, okra and 2 Qts chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer. Add cayenne, salt, and black pepper to taste. Add sachet. After five minutes of simmering, add rice.
2. When okra is about done, start the roux.
3. Take 6 oz cups of butter and heat in sauté pan. Slowly incorporate flour and keep whisking until roux is a dark caramel color. Then cool it and pour slowly into gumbo. Stir constantly. Thin with chicken stock until desired consistency.
4. Add shrimp, crab, crawfish, and oysters. Cook about eight minutes and serve garnish with green onion and gumbo filé.

Chicken Rice Soup

Christian, Aria, and Sarah Ruth Serving Chicken Rice Soup

By Julie Khut, Christian Natividad, Aria Jeremiah

3 lb Chicken
1 cup Jasmine rice
3 gal Water
1 oz Preserved cabbage
1 oz garlic
2 oz vegetable oil
1 lb onion (med dice)
Green onion (as needed for garnish)
Cilantro (as needed for garnish)
Salt (as needed)
Black pepper (as needed)
Fish sauce (as needed)


1. Place the chicken, rice and preserved cabbage in the boiling water. Skim excess fat off the surface periodically.
2. Cook the chicken until soft and tender.
3. Remove the chicken from the stockpot to the half sheet. Continue to cook the rice until soft and the broth begins to thicken.
4. After the chicken cools down, remove the meat off the bones and chop into small pieces. Add meat back to the stockpot.
5. Sauté the garlic in the vegetable oil and add to the broth.
6. Add sliced onion to the stockpot. Bring the soup to simmer for 15 – 20 minutes.
7. Add the seasoning and serve. Garnish with cilantro and green onion.

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