Central Oregon Community College is partnering with the U.S. Coast Guard to recruit chefs and culinary specialists to cook for those serving out at sea.
“When we talk about the culinary industry, I think people think about restaurants and hotels. We don’t really think about working as a chef in the coast guard,” COCC culinary student Sam Stockett said.
Students who complete the program and join the Coast Guard receive a $75,000 signing bonus.
Student Jay Basurto says he initially wasn’t interested in the program until he learned more about it.
“The more they talked about the benefits and what we get to do in it, it seems like a really good viable option,” Basurto said.
Along with the signing bonus, recruits receive housing, health, education and retirement benefits after four years of service.
Chef Matt Shaw has cooked for the Coast Guard for 18 years. He brings that experience to the classroom, teaching recipes and landing new recruits.
“It’s just a unique opportunity and you get paid really well to do it,” Chef Shaw said. “You get to serve your country and to get these students set up for success at an early age and then explore restaurant ownership and having those veteran benefits.”
The program is still in its first year, so it’s unclear how successful it is, but Chef Shaw says at least three COCC students have already expressed interest in signing on after finishing their degree.