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CORVALLIS, Ore. - Jay Perry knew he wanted to be a chef at a young age.
"When I was 18, I saw the chef at a hotel I was in," said Perry, chef at Oregon State University Marketplace West Dining Center. "The chef was 34 years old, and back then all chefs wore all white. Just that look that respect when he walked through the kitchen, I said to myself, 'That's what I'm going to be.'"
Perry wears the white chef coat at OSU - and earns respect through competition. Chef Jay took home silver from the National Association of College and University Food Services competition in Reno, Nevada.
"It kind of bridges a gap between the university and the housing and dining of just understanding that we're here representing the school as well when we are doing these competitions," Perry said. "It's not always about football and basketball and baseball, but cooking is a part of the university as well."
For a chef at Oregon State, the competition's choice of protein - duck - was a feast fit for a Beaver.
Winning awards means a lot, but Perry sees cooking for college students as part of the larger mission of the university.
"Eating is an essential part of their education," he said. "To eat right is good for the mind, it's good for the body, it's good for the spirit, so when we are giving them good food and giving them good options, it keeps them happy, it keeps them focused on what they come here for: to get an education."