Who offers a four-course menu, including an entree, soup, main course and dessert for $5? Pass by the Sabtuan Regional Vocational Training Centre in Waswanipi, where you can eat to your wallet’s content.
“We are not out to make money,” Centre Director Michael Lewis says from the get-go. In the final stages of the Professional Cooking Course, his students must perform in a “real” setting. The Centre has created a 48-place Learning Restaurant.
This community service showcases the talent of future graduates and can encourage other Cree adults to come develop their skills and take gastronomic ideas back home.
Chef Jocelyn Myre, a member of the Federation of Chefs, uses his knowledge from a bachelor degree in Hotel Management to prepare his students diligently to meet the needs of hotels, hospitals, and catering services.
“He transmits passion,” said Redfern Matawashish of his gastronomy coach. “There is no way to fall asleep in the kitchen, smelling the dish and watching your hard work come to fruition. At the beginning it took us a whole afternoon to bake one pie but now we can produce 50.”
The 1,470-hour training culminates in a Diploma of Vocational Studies (DVS), which could lead to a career as a head chef. The students learn more than slicing and dicing. They have been sautéing, braising and blanching.
There are all kinds who attend. Some in the program had to learn how to peel a carrot at the beginning, says Chef Myre. The aim is to get students to experiment with texture and taste and develop their palate. Some have a natural ability to be creative and understand recipes.
Their skills include preparing succulent dishes in mouth-watering sauces. The client’s palate is teased and pleased and their appreciative applause is absolute proof. Creamy soups tickle the taste receptors and awaken unknown sensations in the brain.
The icing on the cake
After Christmas they will enter the examination stage in which they choose the menu, order the food, develop a work plan, and organize the kitchen staff to successfully produce their culinary vision for the dinner. Don’t miss the next opportunities to dine here.
Apprenticeships at a variety of eateries will begin soon, with some apprentice chefs travelling to Mistissini, Wemindjii, Chibougamau, Oujé- Bougoumou and Val d’Or, where they will offer their hard-earned culinary expertise to the hungry masses.
Are you interested in becoming a chef? Check out the next issue of the Nation, the Education issue, where you will find out more on Sabtuan Vocational Training classes to come.