Culinary program at Uxbridge Secondary School preparing the chefs of tomorrow

Published October 21, 2022 at 1:23 pm

Most future chefs – at least the ones who didn’t learn to cook as toddlers at Nonna’s side – go to culinary school or soak up the knowledge through on-the-job training in local restaurants.

At Uxbridge Secondary School the foodies of tomorrow get their first taste of chef culture in class, as part of the innovative Specialist High Skills Major program.

The program is the brainchild of Dave Brown, the Head of Culinary at the school, who started with one classroom. It has now grown to eight.

“We train the students for careers in the culinary world, whether it be cooking or baking. It teaches the students respect for the industry, as well as job skills; one of the students has already received a job offer because of this program,” Brown said.

The culinary program is often the first thing you notice when you walk into the school, and it’s the aroma – the smell of focaccia bread – that often gives it away. And when you head towards the cafeteria you will walk into what you may mistake as a professional kitchen. The equipment these students have access to is commercial grade, and it’s all there because of Brown’s efforts.

Brown, a huge advocate for skilled trades, and his talented staff work with students from grade 9 all the way up to graduation, preparing them for a career in the culinary arts. The program provides students a customized and enhanced learning option to focus on a career path that matches their skills, interests, and meets their individual learning needs.

Former students Jetlyn Nobes and Noelle Hobor are quick to offer praise to Brown and the program. “We’re really fortunate to have such a great hospitality program, and such passionate teachers who really love their students and nurture their talents”. One of the best parts of the program, they add, is that the students in the culinary program make the food that is fed to their peers at lunch. “They feel great knowing that they are feeding fellow students healthy, farm fresh options, that is not only good for them, but supports the community as well”.

Jennifer Parrington, a facilitator for the program, said the students soak up “incredible knowledge” in a short time while enrolled in the course. “It’s our partnerships with Skills Ontario and Skills Canada that allows us to elevate these programs to the next level for our students.”

Courses such as Uxbridge’s culinary program enhance students’ high school experience, as well as prepare them for post-secondary, whether that is college, university, or the workplace for a career in culinary arts, she added. “Hands on experience as well as unmatched equipment is a culinary student’s dream, and the students at Uxbridge SS have Mr. Brown to thank for such a unique opportunity.”

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