Meet our Instructors
Chef J.D. Thomas, CEC, grew up in San Diego in a family that appreciated good food. He was exposed to a wide array of foods at a young age and wholeheartedly participated in the cooking for family and friends during his early years. Many travels drew Chef Thomas into the world of flavor and cuisine.
Chef Thomas has worked in restaurants since the age of 14. Later, after developing his family’s restaurants in Seattle, he was awarded a 3-star rating from Seattle’s Travel Magazine “Places Rated Northwest” for his flavorful South-American food. Leaving the restaurants behind in 1988, he attended culinary school in Portland. He earned the Valedictorian Award of his class at Western Culinary Institute while also working as Private Chef for the Archdiocese of Portland and Louisiana Pacific Corporation. From there, Chef Thomas worked R&D for a 30 million dollar, Fresh-food manufacturing company, been Executive Chef for catering outlets and a private Chef.
He’s also brought his sense of humor and knowledge of culinary history to radio for over 5 years and has been a Culinary Educator for over 16 years. He is a proud member of the Chef’s de Cuisine Society of Oregon and was elected American Culinary Federation’s “Chef of the Year” in 2011 for the Northwest Chapter. Chef Thomas is currently Lead Instructor, Culinary Events Director, and Manager of Northwest Culinary Institute in Vancouver, WA.
Chef Kanmaz was born and grew up in a rural part of Southeast Turkey in the town of Adana. The future chef worked the farms of his family which possess some of the most fertile land in the world. His early years helped him gain a depth of knowledge and experience about how all foods come to the table. After graduating from Anatolian Hospitality and Tourism Management Vocational School in Turkey, he studied two Years of Economics at the University of Anatolia.
He worked almost every department possible in the hospitality industry while in Turkey. But when he moved to United States in 2002, his love for cooking became his focus. Thus began a 10-year culinary journey at historic Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, Oregon. He joined Northwest Culinary Institute as Chef Instructor in 2013.
Chef Erol’s accomplishments include:
2008 ACF’s Chef of the Year Western Regional Nomination, 2010 Chef of the Year Oregon by Chefs De Cuisine Society of Oregon, 2011 Oregon’s Seafood King and represented the State of Oregon in New Orleans at the National Seafood Cook-off.
His Professional Certifications include Certified Executive Chef® by the American Culinary Federation, World Certified Executive Chef by World association of Chefs Societies, Certified Evaluator for American Culinary Federation and assists in ACF accreditation for Post-secondary culinary schools.
As the grandson of a chef, Jared Bassett discovered early on his love for food and cooking. At age thirteen Jared’s first job was at a New York Style pizza restaurant in Portland Or. Upon graduating high school, Jared enlisted in the United States Army where he received his first culinary training. During his six years in the Army, Jared’s mess section won the “Connelly Award” four years in a row, for the the best Army kitchen in the nation. While enlisted he received several meritorious service awards.
Jared also received formal training at Western Culinary Institute. Since graduating he has worked in a variety of Portland restaurants. They include Piccolo Mondo, Jakes Famous Crawfish, Ringside West and Newport Bay Company. Ringside West won the prestigious “James Beard Award” while he was chef. While at Newport Bay, Jared was a corporate trainer and helped open some of their new locations training all cooks.
With his over thirty years of line cooking, training and chef experience, Jared is enthusiastic to be a part of the Mentorship Team at Northwest Culinary Institute, where he can pass on his knowledge to upcoming Chefs. In 2014 Jared took two teams of students to the US Army recipe revision competition at Fort Lewis and took first and second pla