Dicing, mixing and chopping for success in Sto:lo culinary program

With 82 per cent success rate, pre-trades program still recruiting for January

Students in the culinary arts pre-trades program move from basic to elaborate. Preparing, cooking and plating dishes such as this seafood taco with mixed vegetable confit, pickled squash and pilaf rice with citrus brown butter. (SASET Culinary Arts Program photo)

A pre-trades culinary arts program promising to teach Aboriginal and Inuit participants what kitchen life is really like is still open for applicants.

Program coordinator and chef instructor Chris Monkman said the program has seen an 82 per cent success rate, with students graduating and sustaining work in the hospitality industry for a full year.

“You’re getting people that might not have had the best kick at the can, so to speak, in terms of opportunities, chances or the like and giving them an introspective look into what this industry can actually offer,” he said.

The program starts Jan. 8 and runs until March 30 in Chilliwack. The 16 weeks involve both theory and practice.

“This isn’t just a weekend course at the community centre,” Monkman said.

“My want from this is that I want to see a higher quality of cook be out there. It doesn’t matter if you’re at Bravo, which is probably one of the best restaurants in the Fraser Valley, or at a hot dog vendor down the street.”

The program, run by Sto:lo Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training (SASET), has 40 restaurant partners in the Fraser Valley.

Monkman said he wants to develop relationships with the tourism and hospitality industry in Hope as well.

For those taking a job in Hope after the program, he added there are a number of barriers such as housing and childcare that need to be taken into account to ensure the student has success.

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