Culinary Arts students gain entrée to city’s newest restaurants
Posted on 07/15/2015
Raychel Johnson

Graduating with an endorsement in Culinary Arts gave Raychel Johnson an advantage in getting hired at one of McMinnville’s newest dining establishments, the 1882 Grille, a restaurant in the Kaos project.  

“I sent in my application for Kaos,” she said. “The [hiring manager] saw ProStart on my application and was interested that children in high school were learning about the industry at that level.”

ProStart is a school-to-career program in McMinnville High School’s Culinary Arts Pathway program that offers students a chance to earn dual high school/college credit, get paid work experience, apply for scholarships, participate in competitions, and work with a professional mentor.

“It was a lot more fast-paced than I expected,” said Johnson.  “But Mrs. Carpino taught us the basics of running a kitchen, which gave me a lot of knowledge to get started,” she said.  “I didn’t feel like I was being thrown under a bus.”

Besides Johnston, Kaos has hired three other Culinary Arts students for the kitchen, including Tessa Stephens, Rogelio Arreguin and Javier Garcia.

Rising senior Garcia works at The Barberry, the downstairs restaurant in the Kaos project.  He’s already exploring the idea of attending culinary school after graduation and recently returned from a visit to the culinary program through Art Institutes of Portland.

“Every day it’s something different here,” said Garcia.  “I love it.  I’ve been learning a lot about how to use different spices and herbs.”

“I feel incredibly lucky to have access to a group of people with this level of experience coming out of high school with such a high base level of skills to function in a kitchen,” said Colin Stafford, executive chef.  “It’s night-and-day difference between the skills these young people bring and others who don’t have that level of training. 

“And they have a genuine interest in the culinary arts,” he said.  “I can teach kitchen skills, but I can’t teach passion.”