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Award cooked up for selfless chef
Scott Fraser was still on the road when his award-winning culinary squad returned to Oak Harbor last week.
An Oak Harbor restaurant owner and team mentor, Fraser drove almost 4,000 miles to bring the team’s equipment to, and back from, the national competition in Kansas.
“He drove so that we wouldn’t have to bring it on the plane,” said team captain and national silver medalist Luke Felkner.
Chef Fraser’s cross-country drive was one of many efforts he was saluted for Monday, as he accepted this year’s “Children’s Hero Award.”
“You are the epitome of a community volunteer,” said Lt. John Dyer of the Oak Harbor Police Department. He surprised Fraser with a plaque at the city’s school board meeting.
Since 2000, Fraser, the owner of Fraser’s Gourmet Hideaway restaurant, has provided coaching and mentoring to Oak Harbor High School culinary students.
In that year, he was contacted by culinary teacher Louise Reuble, who dreamed of starting a culinary arts program that would meet industry standards. She had been working with students in an old-fashioned home economics classroom without commercial equipment.
“Chef Fraser saw the need to connect students, class content and book learning to real life experiences and challenges,” said Dyer.
Fraser works with aspiring young chefs every year to develop creative menus at the gourmet level. He spends time with all of the youth in class, but once the competition team is selected, he put many hours into helping them prepare.
In each competition, students have only one hour to cook a three-course meal. One year, the judges critiqued that the meal was not realistic, so Fraser decided to put on a fundraiser dinner each year to prove the meals can be mass produced.
“This competition dinner has become the place to be in the Oak Harbor community,” Dyer said.
Dyer added that many of the students have interned at Fraser’s restaurant. One graduate of the program is his current sous chef.
The Oak Harbor culinary arts team has swept the Washington State Invitational Competition four years in a row, qualifying them to compete in nationals. This year, they ranked second in the nation.
Dyer said the students’ success could not be accomplished without Fraser’s unselfish mentoring and support.
“He is their mentor and coach, and his attendance at all of their competitions demonstrates that he is also their friend,” he said. “Scott embodies the term children’s hero.”
The “Children’s Hero Award” was established by the county children’s commission, and annually celebrates those who have made outstanding contributions to youth in their community.
Award-winning meal offered
The Oak Harbor High School Culinary Team produces its national award-winning meal one more time, as a fundraiser for the Oak Harbor Educational Foundation. The meal will be served Sunday, June 6 at Frasers Gourmet Hideaway, beginning at 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 per person. Call 675-2226 for reservations.