Picnic table overlooking Coos Bay from a deck at The Mill Casino

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Chef Chris Foltz cooking in his restaurant kitchen with a flaming pan.

Chef Chris Foltz: Global Culinary Champion

Nine years ago, Chef Chris Foltz, was a sous chef at The Mill-Casino Hotel. Along with his normal duties, they put him in charge of making ice sculpture centerpieces for buffets and company banquets.

Trick was, Foltz didn’t have any experience cutting on ice.

Matter of fact, there wasn’t even anyone in the area that could teach him. He had to go to Washington, D.C. for a 3-day seminar to learn how to carve.

A lot has changed in the past decade.

Foltz, executive chef at Oregon Coast Culinary Institute, has recently returned from the Gelato World Championships in Rimini, Italy, where he won the ice carving title — which was one of several competitive disciplines included in the championships.

Besides his victory in the ice carving competition, Foltz also finished fourth in his culinary event — hot foods. Team USA finished seventh out of 14 international teams, just off the podium. The top five teams take home trophies.

Not bad for Foltz’s international culinary competition debut.

“The competition was really intense,” Foltz said, sitting in an now-empty dining hall at OCCI where Sunday night they had the Valentine’s Dinner. “It was a great experience.