Culinary arts graduate returns as instructional specialist | LBCC

"I wanted to help in the same way": Culinary arts graduate returns as instructional specialist

Logan Lindner

Logan Lindner didn’t like to write term papers nearly as much as he liked to cook.

So in high school, he convinced his social studies teachers to let him swap out research projects for something homemade from whichever country was being studied.

Lindner’s classmates got to try croissants, chutney made with red bell pepper and tomato, and cabbage rolls stuffed with a pork and rice filling called sarma. 

“They loved it,” he remembered. “I got an A on my projects.”

Now an instructional specialist for the Linn-Benton Community College Culinary Arts department, Lindner looks back at those days as pointing him to where he really wanted to be: in a professional kitchen.

In joining the faculty earlier this year, the Lebanon resident came full circle, having received his 2022 degree from the same department. 

“I wanted to give back. I enjoyed the program so much,” he said. “The chefs and I became really good friends. In my first year, I had life issues, and they were there to support me every step of the way. I wanted to help in the same way.”

It wasn’t the original goal. He pushed culinary school from his mind initially because he figured it wasn’t lucrative enough.

Eventually, however, he came to a decision. “I realized that (being lucrative) doesn’t really matter if I don’t enjoy it,” he said. “If I’m not having fun, then what’s the point?”

Feeding people speedily and well has always been Lindner’s passion. Growing up in the coastal town of Florence with grandparents who lived just a few minutes away, he began helping his grandmother make dinner and bake cookies as soon as he was tall enough to reach the counter.

He began working in restaurants at age 16, loving the breakneck pace of a dinner rush. He took a world cuisines class and fell in love with the foods of both African and Scandinavian cultures, particularly the hearty grains, fresh produce and the dishes that use pickled and cured ingredients.

Still, Lindner looked at cooking simply as a hobby until he finally decided it was “just a lot more fun than sitting behind a computer coding for six hours.” 

As a student at LBCC, Lindner was culinary co-curricular president, which let him see what it was like to teach his fellow students. When the instructional specialist job opened, he jumped at it. 

“I love the environment of this department so much,” he said. “You’re never done learning. There’s always something new you can try; some new technique. Students will ask me questions, and if I don’t know, we both learn something. It’s really a win-win for everybody.” 

He gets asked occasionally why someone should study cooking rather than just picking up skills on the job. That can be done, he acknowledged - and the more hands-on work someone can get, the better - but nothing replaces the educational foundation of a good culinary arts program.

“You learn the building blocks of everything, so by the end, you can expand that in a million different directions. What changes will ruin versus make it better; how it works, etc.,” Lindner said. “A chef can ask you to make a certain dish and you can take that and go a little crazy with it.” 

Someday, perhaps, Lindner said, he might like to have his own brick-and-mortar place. It would be a combination cafe and bakery, somewhere where he’d bake bread in-house and then give the day-old proceeds to farms in exchange for their locally-grown goods.

Right now, however, Lindner said, he’s thrilled to be able to work alongside the chefs who helped shape his skills, helping incoming students shape their own.

“It’s a passion for all of us, really, to help these students, to guide them along until they graduate,” he said.