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From the Kitchen to the Corner Office

Former culinary arts student Dakota Cannon

The clang of pots, the grind of a knife, a kitchen is a feast for your senses. The sights, sounds and smells let you know exactly where you are at the moment.

The gleaming commercial kitchen at the Owasso Campus is home to dozens of aspiring chefs, and was once a second home to Dakota Cannon. The Culinary Arts graduate has traded that kitchen for one at Hideaway Pizza. However, his passion for cooking goes back to way before Tulsa Tech. “I have always liked cooking. My mom was a phenomenal cook,” Cannon said. “I always enjoyed helping her in the kitchen.“

Since he was 17, he has made pizzas for the popular restaurant chain. But his path changed with a visit from a Tulsa Tech career advisor. The presentation at Bixby High School opened his eyes to a world of possibilities. “I like looking at cooking videos, and I have always had a passion for food, but Tulsa Tech’s culinary arts expanded it,” Cannon said with a grin. “Tech helped me get to where I could fulfill my passion for food.”

The two-year program exposes students to all areas of the restaurant industry, from the fundamentals of cutting to the skills needed to run a successful business. As Cannon says, hands-on training includes lots of mathematics, but it all starts with safety.

“Everything at Tulsa Tech starts with the basics of sanitization,” Cannon said. “Then we move onto the things you don’t think about being in culinary like scheduling and food cost.” 

Cannon has continued to grow inside the industry, moving from a line cook to a kitchen manager and now in charge of his own store. He says he uses the scheduling skills daily and others like communicating and solving problems. The rising star has never forgotten where he started as a humble pizza cook. “I do my best to work side by side with the team members and show them I am willing to do everything,” Cannon said. “I can definingly hold my own in the kitchen and I enjoy getting involved in the cooking.”

Getting involved also means he is not scared to show off some of the skills he learned, chopping here or watching portions there, but his favorite item. “I enjoy showing others how to chiffonade basil (a fancy cut made by rolling the herb and cutting it into ribbons),” Cannon recalled. “My time at Tulsa Tech gave me the skills to do that.”

As for what is next, Cannon is far from bashful about his dreams.

“I want to own a restaurant,” Cannon said with a smile. “I want maybe a few under my name and something that I can retire off of and create a legacy.”

With more than 80 career training programs, no matter your passion, Tulsa Tech can help you create your legacy.