An Okanagan College Culinary Arts student in the kitchen photo: contributed

Okanagan College launches Indigenous cooking training

The program will infuse Indigenous-knowledge in its professional cook training

Okanagan College is turning to Indigenous knowledge keepers, chefs and foragers to help incorporate traditional knowledge and practices into an intake of its professional cook training program this spring.

The Culinary and Pastry Arts department will host an info session about the pilot program on Thursday, Feb. 21 at 5 p.m. in Infusions Restaurant.

Attendees will have a chance to hear from the college’s Culinary manager chef Vincent Stufano and staff from the college’s Aboriginal Services department about what they can expect in the program.

“We’re taking the industry-proven professional cook training that we are known for at OC and building on it in a way we feel will be very meaningful and valuable for students, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous,” said Stufano. “Our chef instructors are excited and proud to be working with some chefs and knowledge keepers to infuse Indigenous culinary techniques and ingredients into the curriculum in this way. We think it’s going to make for a very rewarding experience for students.”

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The program is 50 weeks in length and fires up on March 25.

The pilot program – a first for OC’s Culinary Arts Certificate program – is a partnership between the college, the Industry Training Authority (ITA) BC and Okanagan Training and Development Council.

Andrew George, an apprenticeship advisor with the ITA and a Red Seal Chef, is one of those working with the college to create a rewarding training experience for students. George is a Hereditary Wing Chief for the Bear Clan in the traditional system of the Wet’suwet’en people. He is dedicated to helping Aboriginal youth access the tools they need to start successful culinary careers.

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“Programs and collaborations like these are needed as they help bring Indigenous foods to the forefront. That in turn fosters understanding and respect, while showcasing the health benefits of Indigenous foods, and incorporating elements of history and important topics like food security,” said George.

“The addition of Indigenous content into this program builds on one of the college’s key directions, which is working with and learning from the Indigenous Community,” said Anthony Isaac, Aboriginal Services manager. “It’s also part of an even bigger, ongoing conversation and effort as the college continues to make strides to toward Indigenization. It’s about looking at how Indigenous knowledge can be interwoven into every aspect of what we do and how we serve students.”

More information about the College’s Culinary and Pastry Arts programs are available at okanagan.bc.ca/fwt

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