Cooking up a career

Scott Community College’s culinary program trains Merrill chef


Claudia Artola

Durant native Brandan Mullink



By Claudia Artola

Brandan Lee Allan Mullink knew what he wanted to do since his earliest years in life. Mullink is a first year student at SCC and is also currently working at Merrill Hotel in Muscatine.

Mullink has received lots of support from his family members, and one of his biggest inspirations in life is his brother-in-law. His brother-in-law has been a big part of his family, and is also a chef in Kirkwood. Mullink looks up to him as an older brother since he never had a brother figure to look at while growing up. After the passing away of his younger sister at the age of 8 years old, Mullink’s family became closer than ever, and found joy within each other. “My family is everything to me,” he explains.

Mullink has a passion for what he does, and has worked his way to where he is right now with hard work. While still in high school, he was provided with the opportunity of getting his culinary classes all paid for. “I am a pretty lucky person”, Mullink says.

Scott culinary students learn to make eggs benedict. Photo by Yasmine Cruz

Just a month into his culinary program at Muscatine Community College, he was offered an internship at the country club and at the Merrill Hotel. He was brought up with opportunities that allowed him to learn more about the culinary arts and what it really takes to be a chef.

Even though his original plan included enrolling into Kirkwood’s culinary program and moving away from home, Mullink didn’t know what was awaiting for him. One morning, he woke up to a text from his mom, letting him know there was something for him on the table. With excitement, he read he was being awarded with a foundation scholarship, and that set his path into staying at MCC.

However, his path has not been easy. Mullink encountered several struggles in his life, that while tragic, show his perseverance. During his time in Durant, while living with his father, he found himself being bullied daily. He was bullied over his height, his weight, and even the death of her younger sister.

“Everyone told me that I was pretty worthless,” says Mullink.  In 2012, his father got into a serious car accident that led him to be in a hospital bed for two months. At the moment he received the scholarship, Mullink decided to think about his past, and who he wanted to be. “With the scholarship, it was a pretty good way to prove to everybody that I am not worthless and I can keep moving on, and do better things,” says Mullink.

During the holidays, Mullink’s family enjoys spending time together and having their family’s traditional meals such as smoked wrap weenies, and macaroni corn baked that his mom makes from her own recipe and it’s a favorite of his.

Being a chef is not easy, and it takes hard work. “It means knowing your stuff,” he says.

Being a chef means not knowing when you close, not knowing who is coming from the door, and it takes a lot to handle the heat of the kitchen. But it also teaches you to be ready to go, to improve daily and to always be alert.

While Mullink still has a couple of years left, and plans to stay at The Merrill for at least five to seven years, he aspires to become a private chef for celebrities in California. Mullink has come far from the boy being bullied in Durant.