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

Parksville resort fire caused by flammable gas used to extract oil from cannabis

Investigators detail reasons for explosion and blaze that destroyed building

Qualicum Beach cinema advocates want to hear from you

Group inspired by local, international examples of community projects

Suspect arrested following gunpoint robbery in Qualicum Beach

Stop and Shop Grocery was robbed June 5; man now in custody

Parksville Qualicum Beach region moves to elevated Stage 3 watering restrictions

City, regional district ask residents to conserve water

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Port Alberni man dies in ATV accident

A Port Alberni man has died following an all-terrain vehicle accident near… Continue reading

B.C. woman fighting to block coroner’s report detailing husband’s death

Fears revealing exactly how Ben Kilmer took his life will have traumatic effect on her two children

Monkey spotted on late-night jaunt in Campbell River

Conservation officers also apparently looking for cougar in the area

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Three Albertans land ‘monster’ sturgeon in B.C.’s Fraser River

For angler who landed the exceptionally large sturgeon it was an ‘incredible dream come true’

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

Most Read