If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen! Fortunately for us locals, Chris Sorenson doesn’t shy away from a little heat.
A graduate of Jamestown High School, Sorenson attended Jamestown Community College then discovered his passion for culinary arts.
In 2005, Sorenson enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh. “It was interesting going back to school when you’re 30,” he said. “A lot of people get discouraged thinking they will go to school and cook all day but you still have homework and projects. (Your teachers) aren’t just training you to cook; they’re training you to run something. They’re training you to hopefully, someday, be a restaurant owner, which many of us can’t say we do.”
When asked to give advice to students considering a culinary career, Sorenson is quick to say that experience is crucial.
“Experience as much as you can first,” he said. “It’s long hours and a lot of hard work. A lot of the 18 year olds I went to college with aren’t in the field anymore because it wasn’t what they thought it was going to be.”
Sorenson, and his brother Geoff, bought the former College Inn in 2012, and reopened it as Coach’s Corner Inn. Since then, it has been serving “bar food with a twist,” fully allowing Sorenson to flex his creative muscles in the kitchen.
“Our menu’s not ‘bar menu’, we don’t serve pizza logs or chicken fingers, we do crazy things, like artichoke and asiago chicken wings, bacon chicken wings and it’s a lot of fun,” Sorenson said.
Prior to opening Coach’s, Sorenson had been the manager and chef of several local restaurants including Forte Restaurant and the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club. He also served as the produce quality assurance inspector for Wegmans.
Sorenson has also been involved in a number of community programs, supporting the Babe Ruth World Series, summer recreation leagues and other youth sports.
“I’ve moved away many times, but I’ve always come back here for some reason,” he said. “Now, we’re invested in the community. In big cities, you just don’t get that same feeling.”
This is part of a series focusing on students who have received scholarship assistance from the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation and have returned to the area to live and work. If you were a scholarship recipient and want to share your story, contact Sarah Marciniak, 661-3390 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Current high school seniors or college students interested in learning more about the scholarship opportunities available through the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation can learn more here. Applications are now available for the 2015-2016 school- year and are due June 1.