Photo © Oregon’s Adventure Coast
By Adam Sawyer
Coos Bay, Oregon, and its surrounding environs are known for many things. From legendary clamming, crabbing and fishing, to miles of recreation-inviting sand dunes, formidable waves and awe-inspiring beauty of Cape Arago and its lighthouse-enhanced vistas. The area is known as “Oregon’s Adventure Coast.” And while you might not know it yet, for culinary adventurers Coos Bay is proving a worthy destination; thanks in large part to the city’s Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI).
Since 2005, the 17,000-square-foot state-of-the-art school has been quietly but consistently producing top-tier culinary professionals on the grounds of Southwestern Oregon Community College. Its graduates are scattered up and down the West Coast and beyond, but fortunately for the community of Coos Bay, many are staying close to where they honed their skills. The Empire Cafe and its adjoining bakery, the Mill Casino, Hannah Marie’s, Bandon Dunes, Cranberry Sweets and 7 Devil’s Brewing Company are just a few of the local establishments benefiting from the Institute’s deep and annually replenished talent pool. The result is a burgeoning culinary scene yet to receive its proper due.
But the benefits go deeper. The Oregon Coast Culinary Institute houses three professional kitchens, three classrooms, a library, a banquet area and a demonstration kitchen for classes and events. Perhaps most noteworthy is the community favorite: Chef’s Table. The weekly Chef’s Table is a chance for students to shine and for foodies to take advantage of palate-pleasing deals. Students put on a three-course pub-style lunch for $10, a gourmet four-course dinner served with a complimentary glass of Oregon beer or wine for $20 and a brunch that comes with a complimentary mimosa or sparkling cider for $15. Chef’s Table meals are served during the spring, fall and winter terms; brunch is on Sundays and lunch and dinner on Fridays. Reservations are required by Wednesday for lunch and dinner, and by Friday for brunch.
Fine dining in Oregon is not the exclusive privilege of larger towns farther north or inland. Thanks to the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, gastronomic excellence and influence are radiating from a little town called Coos Bay on the southern coast. For more information, visit the OCCI. For more information about visiting the Coos Bay area, go to oregonsadventurecoast.com.