Culinary Student Gains Gourmet Experience

Culinary Student Gains Gourmet Experience

Rebecca Warnken was both surprised and nervous when she discovered that she had been selected to participate in this year’s Odyssey de Culinaire. The 10th annual event was hosted on July 26 by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association at the Doubletree Hotel at Warren Place in Tulsa. This unique and entertaining evening allowed a few lucky students the opportunity to work alongside some of Oklahoma’s finest chefs as they prepared their delicious creations.

“I was excited at first,” said Warnken, “but I was also a little nervous when I found myself in a busy kitchen surrounded by all of these great chefs.”

Odyssey de Culinaire is a fundraising event and awareness dinner on behalf of the ORA’s Hospitality Career Initiative, which provides education and mentor programs to help young chefs develop the skills needed for careers in the culinary industry. The event features chefs from the Oklahoma City area paired with Tulsa area culinary students, and is coupled by an event in OKC featuring Tulsa chefs and students from that region. Funds raised from each event are used to provide support for teacher training and development, materials and resources for student recruitment, assistance with job placement for internships and graduate employment, and industry-driven events for students.

The event was structured to allow each selected student to work side-by-side with a chef and was designed to give high school juniors and seniors work experience combined with a practical curriculum that includes real-world skills and food service concepts.

Warnken, a recent graduate of Broken Arrow High School and Tulsa Tech’s Culinary Arts program, assisted Chef Ryan Parrott, executive chef at the LOCAL Restaurant located in Norman, Oklahoma. The pair worked behind the scenes during the six-course dinner to prepare the third course, an elegant entre of trout stuffed with head cheese served with fried potatoes.

“Chef Ryan was very creative and very serious,” Warnken said. “It was such a great experience to be able to work with him and learn so much in a relative short amount of time.”

This young culinary student plans on attending Tulsa Community College this fall and also hopes to continue her training as a chef in the future.

“I wasn’t even really sure what I wanted to do before I came to Tulsa Tech,” Warnken said. “But now I know that I’d enjoy working as a chef for a restaurant, or perhaps even travelling and working on a cruise ship.”

Michael Yip, instructor for the Culinary Arts program at Tulsa Tech, thinks his recent graduate has what it takes to succeed in the industry.

“Rebecca is a hard-working student with integrity,” Yip said. “Both of these important ingredients combined with the fact that she’s super-smart are always a recipe for success.”

Although this year’s event has passed, next summer will provide another great opportunity to support the important educational endeavors of young culinary students in the state of Oklahoma by attending the Odyssey de Culinaire!

If you’re currently looking for exciting classes for high school and adult students, quality business and industry training, or an opportunity to taste a new career, Tulsa Tech invites you to visit today. For more information, please call 918-828-5200 or visit us online at

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