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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Student finds a recipe for success

By Aunie Edwards
Special to The Toronto Sun

Combine equal parts dedicated educator, respected college program and smart government initiative. Mix well with a champion of the culinary industry, a community spirited business, a savvy school board and a generous helping of hard work. Bring to a rolling boil and serve with passion, entrepreneurial spirit, a pinch of good fortune and a dash of patience. Domenic Fazari aspires to become an executive chef and restaurant owner -- this is his personal recipe for success.
High school student Domenic Fazari is a student of the Humber College culinary program, a member of OYAP, the beneficiary of Chef Alliance support and the newest apprentice at Spezzo Restaurant.

Poised to graduate from Father Bressani C.H.S. of the York Catholic District School Board, Fazari is a student of the Humber College culinary program, a member of the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), the beneficiary of Chef Alliance support and the newest apprentice at Spezzo Restaurant in Richmond Hill.

OYAP enables Fazari to apprentice in a trade while earning high school credits. His passion and maturity earned him a seat in the Humber College culinary program. And his acceptance at Humber connected him with Chef Alliance, a group of executives from high-end restaurants and hotels in Toronto, who seek to maintain standards of excellence in their industry.

Fazari's journey began with a recommendation. "Domenic demonstrated the motivation, discipline and maturity to succeed in this program," says Gary McGuire, co-op coordinator for Father Bressani C.H.S. "The faculty at Humber agreed and Domenic was enrolled -- he deserves to be there."

Says Fazari, "This is the perfect opportunity to thank Mr. McGuire -- he's opened the door to my future and I'm grateful. I can earn the credits I need to graduate high school while I begin my training as a chef in the best program around."

Before his assignment to Spezzo, Fazari completed a pre-placement course at Humber. It included health and safety issues, an examination of the profession and an introduction to training and theory. "Humber prepares students for the realities of the culinary world -- it's a demanding profession that requires passion and commitment, so the kids need a comprehensive overview," McGuire says.

Chef Alliance then matches the students with a placement that will suit their goals. "We want to expose qualified students

to the best in our industry," says Albert Schnell, president of Chef Alliance.

"And it's important to bein proper training early on."

McGuire agrees, "Domenic's affiliation to Humber and Chef Alliance is giving him opportunities that we couldn't dream of providing -- this program offers Domenic the education and professional connections that a high school simply couldn't afford -- the York Catholic District School Board is fully aware of the issues and Sarkis Kay, our liaison for such initiatives has done a phenomenal job of creating and maintaining these opportunities for our students."

Through the concerted efforts of many, Fazari recently began his work placement at Spezzo Restaurant, where he is already participating in plate presentation. "Domenic's a great kid with excellent potential," says Erik Mauke, executive chef at Spezzo. "And he can thrive here -- we create original recipes, fusing exotic ingredients into our fine cuisine, so he's learning high level skills. And because we're smaller scale, he gets valuable one-on-one instruction."

Fazari will need 6,000 hours before he can certify -- OYAP is providing a healthy head start. He will work full time and attend Humber classes every Friday until the end of July. "After that, I'll continue at Humber -- it's early days for my apprenticeship, but I'm really happy to be at Spezzo," Fazari says. "Mr. McGuire stays in touch and I can go to him if I have any problems -- it's excellent to have that kind of backing while I complete high school and pursue my dreams."

Domenic Fazari's recipe for success uses all the very best ingredients that the industry can offer -- his culinary masterpiece will be his own bright future.

(Reach freelancer Aunie Edwards at

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