I had the privilege of sitting down with Chef Jim Cason, the department Chair of the Culinary Arts Program at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma County, CA. Chef Jim gave me a complete tour of the new culinary building and we chatted about what it’s like to be a chef in Sonoma, why food inspires him, and the fermentation education they teach their students at SRJC.
Chef Jim loves comfort food and finds just as much pleasure in street food as he does in fine dining. His open mind about food is reflected in his teaching style as well. He is happy when his students reach their goals, no matter what they might be. Not every student in the culinary program aspires to be a head chef of a famous restaurant. Some want to become bakers or better home chefs. Some are more interested in the business side of the industry.
The students really run the show at SRJC. They have a fully-functioning café that is run completely by the students. They create the menus, cook the pastries, run the cash registers and wait tables. Beyond the fundamentals, the students learn how to make candy and how to capture yeast for fermenting sourdough. The calm yet constant bustle in the building as students flowed in and out of kitchens made it clear that Chef Jim is running a perfectly oiled machine.
For more information about the Culinary Arts program at SRJC, visit Santa Rosa Junior College.
*Fish Tacos from the Café at SRJC. Photo from culinary.santarosa.edu