Culinary Student Gains Gourmet Experience

Culinary Student Gains Gourmet Experience

Mario Muro-Rojas was excited when he discovered that he had been selected to participate in this year’s Odyssey de Culinaire. The 11th annual event was hosted on August 1 by the Oklahoma Restaurant Association (ORA) 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.

“Working with Chef Chris McCabe was great,” Muro-Rojas said, “he not only helped teach me some things in the kitchen, he also visited with me about continuing my education and gave me a few tips for college.”

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 is structured to allow each selected student to work side-by-side with an individual chef and is designed to give high school juniors and seniors work experience, combined with a practical curriculum that includes real-world skills and food service concepts.
Muro-Rojas, a recent graduate of East Central High School and Tulsa Tech’s Culinary Arts program, assisted Chef Chris McCabe, executive chef at the RePUBlic Gastropub in Oklahoma City. The pair worked behind the scenes during the five-course dinner to prepare the final course, a delicious dessert which included an elegant Buttermilk Pie with Cormeal-lard crust and Devil’s Cut Peaches.

“Chef McCabe really let me work and make a contribution to the dish,” Muro-Rojas said. “I got the chance to work with a great chef, an opportunity to see some old friends, and even a chance to make some new friends.”

This young culinary student is enrolled OSU-IT this fall and also hopes to continue his formal training as a chef in the future.

“I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do before I went to Tulsa Tech,” Muro-Rojas said. “But now I know that I’d enjoy working as a chef for a restaurant, and hopefully one day owning my old restaurant.”

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

“Mario is an instructor’s dream student,” Yip said. “He’s loyal, honest, hard-working, a fierce competitor, and a responsible play-maker in situations when it counts.”

Mr. Yip’s strong endorsement and multiple compliments come from an instructor who not only sets the bar high but also expects each student to achieve their individual goals.

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 sample 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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