Brian Carney - Alumni Profile
Brian Carney, of Farmington Hills, Mich., is Vice President and Regional Head Coach of Bob Evans Farms, overseeing restaurant operations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The graduate of Franklin High School in Livonia has an Associate’s culinary degree from OCC (‘85), a Bachelor in Business Administration in Finance from EMU (‘88) and a Master’s in Business Administration in International Finance from Wayne State University (‘92). He taught Cost Control in the Culinary Art’s Department at OCC and is currently Vice Chair of the OCC Foundation Board of Directors.
Why did you choose to attend OCC?
I loved cooking and wasn't sure where I wanted my career to go. I thought culinary would be a valuable skill and profession.
What is your fondest memory of OCC?
I competed in a culinary arts competition in 1984 held at Cobo Hall with culinary students from all over Michigan. I won the top prize, a Gold Medal for the pastry division with a chess set made of marzipan.
What surprised you the most about OCC?
I was most impressed with the commitment and passion of chef instructors who helped each student become the best they could be.
How did attending OCC impact your life?
My career took a positive turn when I enrolled at OCC. The networking I did there helped me meet influential people that changed the course of my life for the better. Plus, I met my wife on Day One -- 30 years and counting!
Was there a favorite faculty or staff member who had a strong, positive impact on
Chef Dan challenged me to try new things. Chef Sue always supported my direction over the years. Culinary instructor Bob Zemke handed over his notes from the Cost Control class he taught for many years so I could teach the course. Chef Jim Stawara was a great mentor and coach.
Were you involved in student life activities at OCC? How did those activities impact
I participated in food competitions, supervising OCC graduation ceremony dinners and traveling to food shows in New York and Chicago with other students. These are among my most memorable college experiences.
What has been your most rewarding professional or personal experience since graduating?
Coaching, mentoring and leading teams of people in the restaurant industry has been my most rewarding professional experience. Many of these people have created great careers and found satisfaction and fulfillment in the restaurant industry. This breaks the obvious bias one hears about the food service industry. Teaching at OCC was also a highlight. My most fulfilling time has been my involvement on the OCC Foundation Board and having a chance to give back.
What advice would you give other OCC graduates about school and life after school?
Be flexible in your expectations and open in your willingness to try new things when it comes to your career. Keeping an open mind and looking at life through "student eyes" will afford you the best choices and provide the best opportunities. Networking means more than staying in touch with only those that you have much in common with. Try to build diversity into your life through the people you meet and see what you can learn.
Once you attend OCC, you are part of a very large family that needs your ideas, talent and lifelong support to continue to thrive. Never underestimate the power you have to change others’ lives for the better.