Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner, CHE
Culinary Arts & Hospitality Management
Department Chair

Lisa Gardner came to the Culinary & Hospitality program at OTC with 20 years of industry experience.  Starting in college working entry-level positions while attaining a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management from Missouri State University transitioning into management at Hemingway’s Blue Water Cafe within Bass Pro Shops after graduation. Four years later, she was named assistant general manager of the property, managing all concessions, catering and restaurant operations and its 130 employees.

After a brief time in real estate and health care, Gardner returned to Hemingway’s to serve as its interim general manager for six months. She then found a new home at OTC in 2003, serving as a full-time instructor and then department chair since 2008. Currently, she teaches Dining Room Management, Purchasing, Supervisory Management, Accounting and oversees all student internships. In addition, she is a member of the local chapters of the Missouri Restaurant Association, Springfield Hotel Lodging Association and the Springfield Branson Chef’s Association. She also serves on the advisory boards for Carthage Career Center and Waynesville Career Center.

Jeff Ward

Jeff Ward C.E.C, C.C.E
Culinary Instructor

Jeff Ward has been teaching students in kitchens for more than 20 years. Prior to becoming the pastry instructor at OTC in 2013, he worked in private country clubs, a hotel, a high-volume banquet facility and high-end restaurant.

Currently, he works with students each day in the kitchen, leading all of the baking classes at OTC, including Introduction to Baking, European Pastries, Quick Breads and Yeast Breads, Chocolates, Sugar and Confections and Plated Dessert Presentation.

Chef Daniel Pliska; CEC, AAC
Culinary Instructor

Chef Daniel Pliska comes to OTC with more than 40 years’ experience in the culinary field. His last position was as the Executive Chef and Assistant Manager for the University Club of MU located in Columbia, Missouri since 1998.

In his early years, Chef Daniel trained and worked at first-class hotels, restaurants, and pastry shops in Washington DC, Dusseldorf West Germany, and New Orleans. His career in the culinary field includes more than 27 years as an Executive Chef in private clubs and hotels.

In July, 2013 at the ACF National Convention Chef Daniel was inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Chefs. He has been a Certified Executive Chef with the ACF for more than 20 years and also tested and earned the CCA Certified Executive Chef designation while working for the Club Corporation of America. He has received 10 ACF awards and medals in cooking and pastry, including two grand prizes and a gold medal in traditional cold food competition. Locally Chef Daniel has garnered numerous honors and awards as well.

Chef Daniel is the author of the pastry textbook titled “Pastry & Dessert Techniques” with American Technical Publishers that came out in 2014. He was a contributing author of the ACF National Apprenticeship Training for Cooks — Baking and Pastry Station released in 2012. He has authored more than 25 articles on culinary and pastry arts for various trade magazines. He is very active in the American Culinary Federation and for 10 years, he was the president of the ACF Central Missouri Chapter.

Training and educating of culinary and pastry staff are a passion and a calling for Chef Daniel evident by the fact that he initiated a formal ACF apprenticeship program while at the University club and graduated 5 apprentices through the program. He was also a member of the ACF national apprenticeship committee. Furthermore, he has been on three culinary school advisory boards and was on the accreditation evaluation team for four regional culinary schools. He also judges for Pro Start and Skills USA cooking competitions both statewide and nationally.

During his time off Daniel spends time at the lake with his wife Brigitte and his two grown sons where he enjoys nature, playing guitar and fishing.

Deborah Stinnett

Chef Deborah Stinnett C.C.
High School Instructor

Deborah Stinnett began serving students at OTC in 2008. Prior to working at OTC, she worked in many different areas in the hospitality industry, including catering, food styling and self-publishing her own cookbook. Currently, she teaches Culinary 100, Intro to Baking, Safety and Sanitation, and Introduction to Hospitality.