Colleges : Campus scene : LAGUNA HILLS : Restaurant Provided Recipe for Success

Bill Barber discovered his lifelong passion, cooking, as a teenager working at a restaurant in Illinois. He chose the field as his career and was recently recognized for his achievements when named Orange County's Chef of the Year by the Orange Empire Chefs Assn.

"Orange County has some of the finest chefs in the world," Barber said. "I am very proud to be among their number."

Barber, 33, is a resident of Laguna Hills and an assistant professor of culinary arts at Orange Coast College.

He also coaches the college's culinary team, which won top honors last year in the American Culinary Federation Western Region Junior Member Hot Food Championships in Albuquerque, N.M.

Like his students, Barber is involved in competitive cooking as a member of the California Culinary Olympic Team. That squad will compete next fall in international competition.

Before joining OCC's faculty in 1990, Barber worked as executive chef at Bubbles Balboa Club in Newport Beach and as executive chef at Piret's Restaurant at South Coast Plaza.

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