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Culinology Student With a Full Plate Works to Feed the Troops

Culinology student Michael Bunn, a former U.S. Marine, works himself harder than would any drill sergeant. He’s enlisted in a full course of studies and routinely works multiple jobs. One of those was a recent co-op quarter where he devised new food options for the military.

Date: 10/20/2005
By: Mary Reilly
Phone: (513) 556-1824
Photos By: Andrew Higley
UC ingot When he was a U.S. Marine in the early 1990s, chef Michael Bunn, 33, found himself in hot spots all over the world – from serving on a battleship in the first Gulf War to doing relief work in Haiti.

“It’s funny,” he says. “I joined the Marines to travel. I didn’t necessarily want to be a cook, but I wasn’t ready to be Rambo either.” That being the case, Michael did eventually opt to become a chef in the military, figuring it was a safer career. It turned out to be an ironic choice since he was then assigned to cook for a military fleet unit and found himself in war zones around the world.

Still, his stint in the Marines gave Michael, now a resident of Clifton, plenty of professional experience for use in civilian life. After you become accustomed to cooking for 10,000 battleship crew members three times a day, a restaurant kitchen seems pretty sedate.

After he came out of the Marines in 1995, Michael was so used to quick marching through life that he’s routinely worked up to three jobs at a time since then. And that hasn’t really changed since he enrolled in the University of Cincinnati’s culinology program. The program, one of only three of its kind in the nation, provides chefs with a heavy dose of science so that they can fill roles in food research and development.

One of Michael’s most recent jobs was a cooperative-education quarter with The Wornick Company, innovator of new food products including those for the U.S. military. During the summer of 2005, Michael worked for Wornick developing items for lines of food to be used by the military.

“I worked on a number of projects for a number of the firm’s clients, including an improved macaroni and cheese, food for outdoor camping and the military line. For the military line of food, I developed a Marsala sauce and a Chipotle product,” explains Michael, who will graduate from UC's College of Applied Science in 2006.

Michael will next co-op in January 2006 and is aiming to work for a restaurant in Naples, Fla. “I loved the co-op at Wornick and eventually do want to work in food R&D once I graduate. But I also like to travel, so this time, I had to pick a co-op that would allow me to do that.”

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