When I was asked to send students to Skills Canada I was apprehensive – I’m not a Red Seal chef, I don’t have a large culinary arts program in a commercial kitchen, and I definitely don’t know it all. But after I got the push from one of my colleagues I agreed to present the idea to a couple of my students. To my surprise they embraced the challenge as an opportunity to grow and have fun.
Here we were, 5 days before the competition and without much knowledge of what Skills Canada was, what we needed to do to prepare, and not much in terms of equipment. I researched what I could to scaffold my students along, but the next day they came back after a long night of research and presented all of us with a knowledge base that seemed to have exploded overnight. I was dumbfounded. This dedication was not only inspirational but worth the panic that would ensue the day before the competition. We had prepared so much when it came to the skills portion that we neglected the part where we needed uniforms, and specifically WHITE coloured towels. We had to pull out all the stops. Many texts, calls, and voicemails later, we finally pinned down chef uniforms, hats, and 4-way aprons (which we hardly use in Home Ec) as well as those white towels.
In retrospect, I don’t have any regrets, and I am sure my students do not either. Their mentality going into a competition such as this where they would be competing with students all over the region that came from cafeteria and culinary arts programs was calm and free of negativity. It isn’t every day we encounter people that do things for the experience. I am so happy for them (they know this, I’ve told them too many times). Dalena is going to the Art Institute next year for Culinary Arts where I know she will make all of us proud. Kenny will be with us for one more year and I really hope he continues with his passions. What we have taken from this is not the culinary arts skills that K & D were judged on, but the skills for everyday life that they have acquired from this that will give them the ultimate edge in their careers and futures.
I say this all the time, but this is why I love my job.
Here are some shots from the competition >>