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Meet OWU’s Executive Sous Chef, Deb Geiser

Deb Geiser has shared her culinary skills with Navy cooks on the S.S. Shoup, in Alaskan angling lodges, and since 2003, at Ohio Wesleyan as an executive sous chef and winner of Chartwell’s Vice President’s Award for both 2006 and 2007.
She does the ordering, scheduling, staff training, catering, menu planning, and of course, cooking for the OWU community, and as Steve Ishmael, Ohio Wesleyan’s executive chef says, “Deb happens to be creator of all of the homemade soups served campus-wide, that we love so much.”

“We do menu planning and food preparation for all campus events, from continental breakfasts to four-course meals at the president’s home,” says Geiser, whose earliest childhood memories of her home life in Kidron, Ohio, include lots of gardening, food canning, and baking.

“I love creating new things and learning new techniques,” she says. And with so many cultures and cuisines represented on OWU’s campus, Geiser and her staff often learn a thing or two from students who proudly share recipes from home.
“With so many diverse tastes on campus, we try to offer a variety of foods and menus,” she says. Italian food lovers might, for example, want to try Café 1842 in Welch Hall. Smith Hall’s Pulse on Dining option focuses on healthy and balanced food options. And vegetarians, comfort food enthusiasts, and coffee connoisseurs can all satisfy their cravings, thanks to such talented food service professionals as Geiser.

Recently becoming certified by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) as a Chef de Cuisine, Geiser graduated from the Hocking College’s culinary school in 1997. Besides her work experiences with the Navy cooks and her two summers spent in remote Alaskan lodges as the baker and breakfast chef, Geiser’s work portfolio also includes the country club environments in Columbus. Her field and educational experiences, combined with written exams and cooking demonstrations for other chefs, qualified Geiser for ACF certification and prompted her to think about her professional future. Enter Ohio Wesleyan.

“I knew right after Deb interviewed for the position here that she was the one,” says Ishmael. “Her talent plus her smile and attentiveness really impressed me. In my 20 years of food service experience, I haven’t had a better sous chef.” But back to the soup.

Making good soup can be difficult at first,” admits Geiser, who has learned how to thicken her soups and artfully utilize leftover foods, and still create an appealing dish—or bowl. Her favorite? Chicken chestnut soup with a cheese base.
“But chili is really good too,” she adds.

In her spare time, Geiser and her sister extract honey from their bees. That’s right, they own a bee farm.
“We even featured Deb’s honey with the tea and coffee service at a past OWU president’s event,” says Ishmael.
Geiser’s advice to anyone hoping to master the art of cooking is to not get discouraged.

“Keep trying if things don’t turn out quite the way you plan. There are times when the oven [temperature] is too high or something out of our control occurs. We’ve all been there before!”


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