Oehler’s impressive culinary skills have come home to roast

Tom Oehler.jpg

Tom Oehler's culinary skills have come home. Five generations worth.

Oh, not five generations of families fixing food...although that's reasonable to assume. Rather it's about the five generations of family cabin ownership on Blanche Lake in Otter Tail County. It's that connection that ultimately brought Tom back home.

Just last year, Tom joined PioneerCare, a Fergus Falls multifaceted health and living care provider, as culinary services director. He will oversee food service for the two main senior living settings, PioneerCare and Pioneer Pointe, plus the Otter Tail Power company employee cafeteria.

Tom's experience reads like a travel guide! Most recently he was leading operations for Delta Airlines Sky Clubs. You might say his food was sky high!

He worked with the Sodexo food and hospitality management company to implement changes that boosted quality and satisfaction scores. The key was increasing the use of fresh and made-from-scratch menu items.

Tom's other food service experiences add to his impressive resume. He managed food operations for Western Illinois University. He held leadership roles with the College of Saint Benedict in St. Joseph, the St. Paul Hotel and the Hotel Minneapolis.

His most fascinating gig may have been with the Minnesota Governor's Residence under the Ventura and Pawlenty administrations. While there he supervised staff, contract workers and juggled events around to provide impressive dinners for heads of state, cabinet members, political and business leaders and foreign dignitaries. If only walls could talk!

So why return to Otter Tail County? The answer is simple: "Childhood memories of spending summers at our family cabin on Blanche Lake," Tom said. He adds that living here gives him more time to spend on the lake, reminiscing and renewing connections.

Plus the small town work experience is first class. PioneerCare’s marketing guru Steve Guttormson said that Tom has commented on the positive and supportive work culture. “He said he hasn’t seen anything quite like it in his experiences with other work environments,” Guttormson said.

Tom plans to get involved around town. He volunteered and held leadership roles with co-ops, downtown councils, visitor's bureaus and other assorted organizations throughout his career, so you can bet he’ll be looking for ways to make a difference in west central Minnesota.

Nathan Johnson, CEO for PioneerCare, sums it up: "Food is so important here, and his expertise in quality, efficiency, and innovation aligns perfectly with our philosophy of performance excellence.”