(L to R): In culinary chef coats, Michaela Jones, Culinary Arts Department Co-Chair and Chef Gil Rodriguez, Lizette Flores, Nicole Wynn and Maribel Nzokah. In plain clothes, Sami Postma, Island County Economic Development Council (EDC) Program Coordinator, Ron Nelson, Executive Director, Island County EDC and Brad Tuininga, Director of Philanthropy for the Skagit Valley College Foundation. The donation to the SVC Culinary Trust by the EDC is in recognition of the support the program provided the EDC during Coupeville’s MusselFest 2017.

Five Skagit Valley College Culinary Arts student chefs, along with Culinary Arts Department Co-Chair Gilbert Rodriguez and Hospitality Consultant Lyle Hildahl, recently earned 2nd place in the 31st Annual Penn Cove MusselFest Chowder competition. The two-day event was held in Coupeville, Washington on March 4th and 5th. Twenty competitors provided chowder samples to more than 8,000 people who attended, some from as far away as Tennessee, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Illinois.

Dr. Laura Cailloux, Vice President of Skagit Valley College’s Whidbey Island Campus and Centers, and an Island County Economic Development Council (EDC) Director, recognized a unique opportunity at MusselFest. Student chefs from SVC’s Culinary Arts program partnered with the EDC and joined in the mussel chowder competition. The EDC provided all the administrative and equipment support while the students de-bearded 40 pounds of mussels, pealed 50 pounds of potatoes, sliced 50 pounds of onions, and chopped 50 pounds of carrots. In addition, the students smoked the mussels, which made their chowder entry truly unique.

(L-R) Hospitality Consultant Lyle Hildahl works with Student Chef Colin Southey as he stirs the College’s entry for the MusselFest Chowder competition.

In support of the outstanding work of SVC’s Culinary Arts program in training future chefs, and in recognition of the student chefs’ hard work at MusselFest, the Island County EDC made a $500 donation to the SVC Culinary Trust. “Island County needs skilled culinary workers,” said Ron Nelson, Executive Director of the Island County EDC. “Whether it’s in our premier restaurants that provide tourists with award-winning dining experiences or caterers who make weddings and events memorable, professional chefs play a critical role in making our county a memorable destination. Our residents also get spoiled too.”


About the SVC Culinary Arts program: SVC’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program prepares students for careers within the food industry. Learning experiences include practical lab work, classroom instruction, independent and cooperative study in baking, food preparation, restaurant cooking, customer service, banquets, catering, and hospitality. www.skagit.edu/culinary


About the Island County Economic Development Council: Our mission is to retain and create job opportunities for the residents of Island County, and to enhance the economic vitality and quality of life while expanding the local tax base and respecting shared community values and environmental integrity. http://iscoedc.com or call (360) 678-6889.