New program in Bonavista trains next generation of chefs
Everybody's got to eat, and people who know their way around a kitchen won't have trouble finding work both in this province and on the mainland.
© Shawn Hayward photo
Culinary student Michele White-Vincent fries up something good at the Bonavista campus of College of the North Atlantic. This is the first year a full cooking program has been offered at the college.
Cook was the fourth most commonly-advertised job title in wanted ads nationwide, according to Wantedanalytics.com, and cooks were the most in-demand professionals in Calgary, Edmonton, Montreal, and Vancouver job postings.
A new program at the Bonavista campus of the College of the North Atlantic is training students to meet the need of the food service industry.
The 34-week course began in September and gives students the skills they need to become Red Seal chefs.
"It opens up job opportunities immensely," says Chris Sheppard, the program instructor. "Bull Arm and Long Harbour are looking for Red Seal chefs to go work out there. They'll take other people, but the higher paying jobs are going to be Red Seal."
The Red Seal program prepares students to work as kitchen managers, which means a higher salary.
"Some of these students have been working in the industry for 10 to 15 years, but haven't gotten to that higher pay level because they don't have this certification," says Sheppard.
Sheppard previously taught short one-week and night courses in cooking at the Bonavista campus, but this is the first full program. After completing the first year, students go on to apprentice in working kitchens, and then complete a second block of studies that prepares them for their Red Seal exams.
Last month the Packet reported that restaurants were having trouble finding cooks in Clarenville. Sheppard says 2,000 cooking positions will come open in the province by 2020.
Sheppard says demand is so large for chefs that he has gotten calls from restaurants asking if he has any students available to work. Seven students began the program in September, and Sheppard expects more people will sign up as word spreads about the program.
"It's the first year," he says. "A lot of people don't realize we've been offering the program here in this region. So I think it will grow for next year. We're already got students registered for next year."
People can get into the industry without a Red Seal certificate, but because health inspection reports are now online in this province for anyone to see, Sheppard says owners are paying more attention to sanitation. The cooking program at CNA includes classes on hygiene, food and workplace safety.
The first crop of students have been enthusiastic about the program, according to Sheppard, and have been keeping busy volunteering with the recent Roots Rants and Roars festival, and making breakfast at the college to raise money for the school council.
"The students that are here are really interested and committed to this program and becoming professionals," he says. "We're set to be very busy in September of next year with this program."