Line Cook Program graduates

Top Tofino chefs prep First Nations students

"There’s a huge need for qualified chefs and we want to see locals get these jobs."

NORA O’MALLEY

nora.omalley@westerlynews.ca

There’s a certain kitchen jargon one can only learn from real-life restaurant experience.

Now, thanks to superior tutelage from Tofino’s Chef Dylan Tilston and Chef Mare Bruce, nine First Nations students are primed and equipped to turn and burn the cook line of a West Coast kitchen.

“They’ll know what to do when a chef asks them to get a deep six of Mirepoix,” said Chef Dylan of The Fish Store and Oyster Bar and recently launched Surfside Grill at Pacific Sands Beach Resort.

The four-week intensive line cook training program took place in the Schooner Restaurant kitchen from Feb. 20 to March 17, and was funded entirely by the Nuu-chah-nulth Employment and Training Program (NETP).

On the second day of training, NETP provided each student with their own knife and a pair of kitchen-friendly shoes.

“Tofino and Ucluelet are food destinations. There’s a huge need for qualified chefs and we want to see locals get these jobs and work on the actual line rather than starting at the entry level position,” said NETP program co-ordinator Evan Hauser.

This is the second year NETP has opted to offer the line cook training program. Last year, Hauser said they had an 80 per cent success rate.

“We’re hoping to beat that this year. This group was a good fit. They have been really amazing. Everyone does have the goal of moving forward into some sort of kitchen work,” Hauser said.

Ucluelet First Nation Marissa Amos plans to use her newfound culinary skills to showcase indigenous cuisine.

“When we first got here, Chef Mare asked everyone what they wanted to get out of the course. All I said was I just wanted a job. Now, it’s a completely different answer. I’ve found such a passion for food and cooking.

Chef Dylan and Chef Mare introduced us to the chef world in such an amazing way,” Amos told the Westerly News.

“I’m pretty sure I can speak for us all. All of us have gained such a passion for it now.”

During the course, the students opened a little breakfast cafe out of Schooner Restaurant called the Shipwreck Cafe.

Locals lined up out the door to get a taste of the 100 per cent student run cafe.

“We’ve taught them the hierarchy of the kitchen so now we wanted to get them in a real life situation,” said Chef Dylan.

Chef Mare added the students did a wonderful job and took to it with passion.

“The best gift you can give is the love of food,” she said.  “I hope they come out with a passion for food and I hope they end up going to college and get culinary degrees. I feel like they all can succeed.”