Presidential Chef Stirs Up New Culinary Arts Program at College of the Canyons.
On his first day on the job as chef at the White House staff mess, a fine dining restaurant in the West Wing that serves the president, first lady and senior staff members, Chef Louis Eguaras was asked to see President Bill Clinton in the oval office.
“He wanted to meet me and welcome me on board,” said Eguaras. “I remember he said something funny but I forget what it was because I was just so excited to be there.”
Eguaras, who can trace his love for cooking back to the time when his mother taught him how to cook spaghetti and meatballs, has made a name for himself amongst the iron and naked chefs of the culinary arts world.
During his one-year stay at Camp David and four years of service at the White House, Eguaras, who now owns his own catering company, Presidential Culinary Service, had the immense honor and privilege to sauté and julienne the meals for a long list of dignitaries and celebrities that reads like a guest list for an awards ceremony.
"Some of the most memorable state dinners that I worked on was for President Nelson Mandela of the Republic of South Africa, the Emperor and Empress of Japan and President Henrique Carduso of Brazil,” said Eguaras.
"I also got a chance to work on celebrity dinners for Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Amy Grant, George Strait, The Rolling Stones, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Buffett, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Oliver Stone, James Woods, Crosby, Stills and Nash and many more.”
“Every state dinner was an exhilarating moment for me,” reminisced Eguaras. “I got to see first hand what it takes to produce lavish plates and the timing it takes to create a great event. I enjoyed working close with Executive Chef Walter Scheib, the Residence Executive Chef, because he was very open to teaching new techniques and taught us how to plate state dinners for 250 people or more. It was very demanding but so much fun.”
But Eguaras, who also worked along with the United States Secret Service and traveled with the president and senior staff to ensure that the meals prepared for the president were properly secured, is now teaching students how to cook a meal fit for the president in the new culinary arts program at College of the Canyons.
The Culinary Arts industry has grown so much in the past 10 years that there has been a great demand for high quality, highly skilled individuals to work in this competitive industry and profession.
"I have been living in Valencia since 2001 and have seen the growth in this area. I feel that COC has a lot to offer the community of Santa Clarita and neighboring cities with regards to a great culinary arts education. The Culinary Arts industry has grown so much in the past 10 years that there has been a great demand for high quality, highly skilled individuals to work in this competitive industry and profession, which I think the culinary arts program at COC will help address.”
Eguaras helped College of the Canyons put together the new culinary arts program and serves as an advisor on the committee, and has high hopes for the program’s future.
“I hope to create an innovative, extremely strong and competitive program where students will learn basic to advanced skills in College of the Canyons' Culinary Arts Program,” said Eguaras. “I want our students to have a great foundation, confidence and be prepared to step into a commercial kitchen and produce great work for themselves, their employers and clients. We will offer classes in culinary fundamentals, advanced culinary arts, food safety and sanitation, garde manger, baking and food and wine studies.”
“By having these courses,” added Eguras, “I feel that a culinary arts student attending COC will have the proper knowledge, creativity and skills to succeed in a highly competitive industry. I feel that with my professional experiences and strong background in the industry, I will help students prepare for a successful profession in the Culinary Arts."
When he’s not in the kitchen or teaching, Eguaras loves to travel and check out different recipes from around the world and he loves to dine out with his wife Agnes.
For more information about the culinary arts program at College of the Canyons, please visit the college’s website at www.canyons.edu.