Faculty profile: James Tjeltveit

Jessica Ugalde, Reporter

James Tjeltveit

Sierra Nevada College senior cook, James Tjeltveit, is passionate for cooking and it brought him to where he is today. Some may not know he also has a strong passion and love for his family, people and youth who are struggling.
“My grandpa had the best saying,” Tjeltveit said. “He’d say, ‘Every morning when you wake up, think of three things you can do for others today.’ I live by that. If someone breaks down on the side of the highway, I pull over and help.”
Tjeltveit served in the military for 11 years, but refused to stop being in service after his retirement. He has helped youth involved with drugs, got abused women to leave their homes safely, worked with mentally disabled children, and has raised money for young adults looking to start a culinary career. In addition, he strives to help those dealing with bullying, and is constantly seeking out ways to change the normality of suffering.
“The more you do the more it goes around and even comes back,” he said.
Now, Tjeltveit organizes meals for SNC through supply ordering and dictating jobs for kitchen staff. He has studied a wide variety of culinary styles, and trained under several skilled chefs, one of whom was famed chef Gordon Ramsey. Tjeltveit hasn’t stopped putting in daily effort towards a better world. He utilizes his community from rodeo clubs, one of his other hobbies, and looks for more volunteers to help youth in distress.
“I have always had a way with teens, understanding and communicating,” he said. “I never get frustrated. Children are our future. We’ve lost touch of focusing on kids and in turn they slip through the cracks. I’m passionate about it because bullying is one of the reasons teens commit suicide.”
Tjeltveit knows that it all starts with what you and your family do.
“The biggest lesson I teach my kids is to never judge another person,” he said.
Tjeltveit and his family live in Reno, and he has been there ever since sixth grade when he moved from Montana. Regardless of how busy he is helping others or working an hour away from home, Tjeltveit always makes time for cooking, as well as time with his family, which also involves teaching them how to cook.
Tjeltveit’s passion drove him to complete a culinary school degree that he paid for on his own. He believes having a passion is fundamental. “Kids suffer emotionally because they don’t have access to their passions or don’t know what those passions are,” he said.
“How we handle those who are disabled or suffering has to change now,” Tjeltveit said. “We need to come from a place of understanding and support.”