From left to right

THURSDAY SPOTLIGHT: KSS grad works Whistler kitchen

Program prepares students for exciting culinary careers around the world

  • Dec. 22, 2016 8:00 a.m.

Vancouver Island University (VIU) Culinary Arts program graduate Perry Assu is living his dream. For fun, he snowboards down some of the finest slopes in the world at the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort and for work, he cooks up fine culinary creations in the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Whistler.

Assu, 19, who has wanted to be a chef since he was 12, started working at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler last June. He loves the fast pace of the kitchen there, and the fact that he’s learning constantly. Living the resort lifestyle in Whistler is an added bonus.

“I love living in Whistler!” he says. “The snowboarding in the winter is phenomenal and there are endless hikes to do all summer. Living in Whistler, I’ve had the chance to meet so many people from around the world, and I’ve made many lifelong friends.”

Assu, along with two other VIU Culinary Arts graduates, Matthew McCamon and Jacinto Bevilacqua, were initially hired on at the Fairmont Chateau as co-op students last summer. They earned the chance to stay on as apprentices after their co-op work term ended by proving their worth in the kitchen.

“We are a very busy brigade here, but the VIU program prepared me well for the reality of hotel cooking – the long hours and the heavy workload,” says Assu. “All of my instructors gave me valuable advice that came into play when I got this job. I plan to never leave Fairmont as a company – it’s my goal to one day work my way up the ranks to become an executive chef of a Fairmont hotel.”

Bevilacqua, 19 and a graduate of Kwalikum Senior Seoncdary, got his start in the Culinary Arts program while he was still in high school through the dual-credit program, which allows high school students to simultaneously work towards completing their high school diploma and post-secondary certification by receiving dual credits for their post-secondary coursework.

“My favourite part of the job is meeting so many new people and interacting with customers,” he says.

Bevilacqua became a chef because he enjoys cooking and wants to share the experience with others. He says VIU’s Culinary Arts program gave him the base knowledge and mass production experience that helped him earn the job at Fairmont. Bevilacqua plans to stay at the Fairmont Chateau at least three years. His long-term goal is to become a teacher.

“I encourage anyone who is interested in a career as a chef to go through the program,” he says. “I enjoyed it, and it helped me get this position!”

McCamon, also a dual-credit student who did the Culinary Arts program in his final year of high school, says the best part of the VIU program is the doors it opens up to go to new and exciting places – after spending three years at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler, he plans to follow his girlfriend to Australia to work at a hotel there.

“Without the co-op part of the VIU Culinary program, I would have never have been able to get this much experience at such a young age,” he says. “I thought that I would be missing out on a lot of things in the last year of high school, but the experiences I had thanks to VIU are so much more valuable.”

Assu also has no regrets about enrolling in VIU’s Culinary Arts program. “The opportunities are endless, as my career path shows,” he says. “My advice to current students: apply for any job you want even if you think it’s out of your league – I did and got a rewarding career out of it!”

VIU Culinary Arts co-op students and graduates find jobs all around the world. VIU students also went to Fairmont hotels in Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper this year as well as high-end restaurants and food service operations throughout BC and across Canada. Other students went to restaurants overseas. For example, one student went to work at Singapore’s Restaurant Andre – No. 32 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016 list – and another travelled to the Ritz Carlton in Bangalore, India, for work experience.

The next intakes for the Culinary Arts programs are January 23 and February 14, 2017. Not sure if you have the money to attend? Students in high-demand programs like Culinary Arts may be eligible for a number of different tax credits and government grants to help with costs. To learn more, visit viu.ca/culinary.

— Submitted by VIU

Just Posted

Halloween festivities abound in Parksville Qualicum Beach area

From aerial shows to trick or treating, there’s plenty of event options for all ages

Celebration of life announced for Parksville man who died following reported hit and run

Investigation still underway following death of Spencer Alexander Moore

Mushroom festival returns to Coombs

Displays, talks, mushroom identification and more

ELECTION 2019: NDP’s Gord Johns re-elected in Courtenay-Alberni

Conservative Byron Horner finishes second, with Green Party’s Sean Wood third

VIDEO: Is the stethoscope dying? High-tech options pose threat

World-renowned cardiologist believes the device is just a pair of ‘rubber tubes’

Aquilini companies deny negligence in U.S. vineyard fire that killed two kids

Fire occurred at Red Mountain Vineyard, located in southeast Washington State

Surrey cop killer gets new parole conditions

Surrey RCMP Constable Roger Pierlet, 23, was shot dead on March 29, 1974

Former Kelowna Hells Angels associate could be deported, court rules

David Revell has lost his fight against deportation from Canada

Alcohol available onboard BC Ferries starting Thursday

Beer and wine sales begin at 11 a.m. on select Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay sailings

‘Find Trevor’: B.C. man’s dog leads searchers to rescue him after fall during hike

‘I’ve had lots of intelligent dogs, but Purple is in a class herself’

15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

They say young people will be more affected than other groups

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

Girl approached by stranger at Nanaimo elementary school playground

Brechin Elementary School principal sends letter to parents after Oct. 22 incident

Most Read