In late October, notable chefs from Sonoma County restaurants joined dignitaries, instructors and students from the Santa Rosa Jr. College B. Robert Burdo Culinary Arts Center to pay tribute to Andrea Mugnaini, founder of Mugnaini Wood Fired Ovens, for her donation of a Mugnaini Barrel Roll oven to the school. The gift of a Mugnaini oven gives the culinary students the opportunity to master the fine art of wood fired cooking as part of their training for professional careers. Among those on hand to acknowledge Andrea was the Culinary Arts Center’s namesake, B. Robert Burdo.
According to Culinary Arts Program Department Chair Michael Salinger, the wood fired oven allows the school to expand their Culinary Café and Bakery into the outdoor patio area and add wood-fired items to their restaurant menu.
As part of the donation process, Andrea shipped several different oven models to the Culinary Arts Center to allow faculty and students to compare oven sizes over several months before they made their final selection. She provided training on how to fire the ovens to make the most of their potential in a high volume, professional environment.
As a longtime Sonoma County resident, Andrea is a proponent of the region’s food and wine culture. The Culinary Arts Center offers the only professional culinary training program in the region, drawing students from all walks of life. “It’s always been important for us to have high quality equipment at the school,” explains Chef Salinger. “To be able to give students the opportunity to use a Mugnaini oven is phenomenal. I just love to see the looks on their faces when they first see it. And now nobody wants to cook on any other type of wood fired oven than a Mugnaini.”
Years ago, the Culinary Institute of America in New York was also the recipient of a wood fired oven from Andrea. Many of the students in that esteemed program have gone on to become some of the most recognized names in the food world. Hopes are high that the Santa Rosa Jr. College Culinary Arts Center will serve as the birthplace for the next generation of culinary superstars, and that their menus will include creative evidence of the wood-fired cuisine that they are learning to prepare today.