Thank you to Sydney Hamelin, JourneyPerson Cook for this blog.
From a young age I’ve always enjoyed cooking, although it wasn’t until my later years in high school that I decided I wanted to pursue it as a career. I was at a point where I had taken all of the cooking–related classes I could in school but still wanted to do more. That’s when my home Ec teacher told me about the SIEC Culinary boot camp. This was a fantastic segue into what I could be doing after I graduated. The boot camp instructors were also instructors at Saskatchewan Polytechnic at the time, so they were able to answer any questions I had about post-secondary education in the cooking trade. I applied to Saskatchewan Polytechnics 2-year Culinary Arts diploma program in 2015- straight out of high school.
The thing I love most about this trade is how much of it is hands–on learning and being creative. I can’t sit still, so being able to keep busy while learning is important to me constantly. There were also many opportunities to help out at different events such as Chef’s gala, Zoo Gala and Gold medal plates throughout the Saskpoly course, which allowed us to meet different Chefs. Networking is a big part of this trade. Getting to know different Chefs and restaurants can play a part in getting a job or opportunities that you want. This is important if you want to become an apprentice in the trade. To get hours logged, you need to be working under someone who has already had their Red Seal certification. I passed my red seal exam this past year, and it was worth all the hard work and hours to get here.
I have had the opportunity to work at a handful of different restaurants, getting to know different cuisines over the years. They have all been supportive of where I want to go in my career- especially when it comes to competitive cooking. This is another avenue where this trade can take you. I have been cooking competitively for the better part of a decade. It keeps me on my toes; although it can be a stressful environment, win or lose, I always come out better than I did going in. I’ve competed in skills Canada multiple times, which I cannot recommend enough. It’s a fantastic Competition for tradespeople- you learn a lot. I was Top Chef Saskatchewan for Taste of Saskatchewan as well as Soup master for Nutrien Winter Shines Soup Cook–off. Most recently, I was able to compete as part of youth Team Canada in the 2020 Culinary Olympics held in Stuttgart, Germany.
Since finishing post-secondary, I have also become an instructor for the SIEC Culinary boot camp that helped shape the tradesperson I am today. Getting to see and help others pursue their dreams of cooking is a fantastic feeling. This trade is full of hard work and long hours, but it’s my passion and keeps me going. You never stop learning. Food plays a big part in bringing people together.