Program Spotlight: Culinary Arts Program

The Clipper Café , located in Building 27, is home to the Culinary Arts Program where students gain experience cooking, grilling, and preparing food to be sold. This is the place where students are able to practice what they are learning in the classroom.

Chef William Wiklendt and Chef Dan Martinson are professors of the Culinary Arts Program courses. They run the Culinary side of the Clipper Café as well as teach many students the various techniques of cooking within the two year degree program.

Wiklendt teaches the cold foods, store room, short order, and wait staff portions. His experience includes working in a retirement home, a few hospitals, and a large nonprofit. About 20 years ago, a position became available at the college and he took the job.

Martinson also joined the staff around 20 years ago, with experience from culinary school and from working in Seattle and Los Angeles. He coaches students on the hot line and the preparation sides of the kitchen. This includes soups and sauces, meat fabrication, starches, and vegetables. For the most part, the hot line prepares entrees for both the Clipper Café and the Percival Dining Room.

“When you work somewhere for 20 years,” Martinson said, “It really takes a big chunk of your career and we’ve done a lot while we worked here, but it feels like we’ve always worked here.”

Both professors said their favorite part of working at the college is the students. “It’s really something to see the students first approach us and they are full of passion about food… and they don’t know anything about cooking. And then two years later when they are done with the program…they are ready to go out. The amount they have learned is incredible,” said Wiklendt.

The types of students attending the Culinary Arts Program range from running start students, students just out of high school, students planning to transfer, and retrained students from other careers.

“It’s my passion“ said Jeremy Pritchett, a culinary student. “I’ve done a lot of jobs in my life and I’ve been given the opportunity to follow my dreams and my passion, so that is what I’m doing.”

Graduated students from the program have gone on to become executive chefs in casinos, own their own restaurants, been on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, won a national apple pie contest, and another went on and made ornaments for President Clinton and every four years they cook for the Governor’s Ball.

This program is a student-run program; the menus are influenced by the students, and the fact that people eat the student’s food on a daily basis allows for the students to get immediate satisfaction that they are learning about the business.

“It’s a hard business, it takes a lot of dedication,” Martinson agreed, “but the biggest benefit that the students get is all of the hands on experience.” Culinary student Amanda Tribel said, “We try out a recipe to our preferences and if we don’t like it, we work it and tweak it to make it better and make it more unique.”

The students of the program work on a content-based curriculum, where they study and learn a broad range of skills including pasta preparation, fish sautéing, and how to grill a chicken. Culinary student Stacy Foreman said, “Makes you feel good when someone buys your pie or something.”

The most popular food served in the Café is the hamburger. But the cheeseburgers, salads, and the daily entrees are close runner-ups. “The biggest selling thing has to be hamburgers. Always will be I think,” said Wiklendt. “The customers are for the most part teenagers, and so that is what they usually get.”

The Culinary Arts Program serves meals from Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.