OTC culinary student finishes degree, plans to open Branson eatery

OTC culinary student’s persistence results in Degree and new Branson restaurant

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Ondi Burns, a culinary student at OTC, cools off a piece of sugar that she will mold into a goldfish for one of her final projects before graduating. She was glad to be able to return to in-person classes at OTC to finish her degree. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/News-Leader) Two […]

The dreams and plans of, Ondi Burns, a culinary student at OTC, almost came to a halt as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic. When the school shut down because of pandemic and its related closures things looked pretty bleak for not only for finishing her course work at OTC but for her plans to open a new restaurant in Branson. Thanks to the efforts of the OTC Culinary and Hospitality Staff staff, Burns, was able to complete her course work and will be receiving her Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts this month. She will receive her Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts this month and the plans for the restaurant are back on schedule.

Burns said that the new restaurant, “The Rogue Chef, is scheduled to open June 1 and will be located on the Branson Strip just across from Branson’s new “Aquarium at the Boardwalk.” The restaurant will feature an open kitchen and be staffed by chefs trained at OTC. “We are taking Branson-loved food, pastas, and sandwiches ….and we’re just putting the chef element into it…taking it up a notch,” she added.

“I almost gave up. It was pretty bleak,” said Burns, 36, of Republic. “You don’t know if you’re going to get the work done because everything is shut down and you aren’t sure if you are going to be able to finish the class you wanted to finish.”

She found herself at home, trying to complete assignments online and helping her two children, in grades 3 and 7, navigate the abrupt shift from going to school to learning remotely.

Luckily, in late April, things started to look up. OTC announced plans to give students, in select programs, the ability to return to class in shifts to finish up.

“We are taking Branson-loved food, the pastas and the sandwiches and all the baked goods, and we’re just putting the chef element into it. We are taking it up a notch,” she said. “Our specialty pastas are topped with things like prime rib. We have a prime rib sandwich. We also have rice bowls with different ingredients.”