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Youth Force
Too many cooks not spoiling this broth

By Aunie Edwards
Special to the Toronto Sun

The saying "too many cooks spoil the broth" does not apply to Michael Piccolo, senior at Father Bressani Catholic High School, student of the prestigious Humber College culinary program and chef apprentice at The Doctor's House, a high end dining experience in the heart of Kleinburg, Ont.
Oyap student Michael Piccolo (left) and the Doctor's House Restaurant executive chef Peter Selveira proudly display the restaurant's buffet luncheon.

Piccolo's impressive progress has not come easily -- his passion for all things culinary, his maturity and commitment toward his goals and his excellent work ethic are the main contributors to his present status.

But he isn't alone. With the support of dedicated high school and college educators, community-minded business people, remarkable programs and the tireless efforts of the visionaries who built them, Piccolo is realizing his dreams with plenty of company.


Through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP), Piccolo is able to apprentice in a provincially designated skill -- in this case, the skilled trade of Chef -- while earning high school credits. The York Catholic District School Board fully endorses the subsidized apprenticeship initiative -- in fact, this savvy board has connected OYAP with some of the most esteemed educational opportunities available, one of which is the Humber College culinary program.

"Sarkis Kay is a brilliant outsourcer," says Gary McGuire, co-op coordinator at Father Bressani C.H.S. "We can't provide the level of training that Humber can offer -- they employ internationally trained executive chefs to run a fantastic culinary course both in skills training and in creating a mindset that will excel in a culinary career. Sarkis has created a unique opportunity for students to follow a smooth and guided transition from high school to college to a successful future."

In a testament to this meticulously planned opportunity and in an endorsement of Humber's excellent reputation, the Chef Alliance of Toronto has aligned itself with both the program and with its participating high school students.

Chef Alliance is a reputable group of executive chefs throughout the GTA who are committed to giving back to their community and promoting excellence in their industry. They sponsor students at Humber by matching them with suitable opportunities.

As such, Piccolo was invited to apprentice at The Doctor's House, a member of the Chef Alliance. The restaurant is steps from the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg.

Professional network

"The Chef Alliance tries to find apprenticeships that suit the student, their interests, even their transportation issues -- everything is done to give student and business the best chance for a successful experience," McGuire says. "Imagine the incredible professional network to which these kids are exposed -- again, this connection is something that only special programs could provide."
If food is your passion, Humber College's exceptional Chef Program may be your destination -- here's what they can teach you:
  • culinary knowledge
  • cutting-edge culinary skills
  • the art of baking
  • sanitation and safety
  • nutritional cuisine
  • Humber provides innovative, state-of-the-art, on-campus teaching facilities and creative, innovative professional instruction.
  • Visit their website at

  • Piccolo apprentices under the supervision of executive chef Rupert Boreland. Piccolo works at The Doctor's House five days a week and attends Humber every Friday where his practical skills are enhanced and complimented with structured study.

    "The Doctor's House has been really great," Piccolo says, "I'm involved in the Sunday brunch, the daily lunch menu -- I'm getting excellent exposure and I'm enjoying the work."

    Piccolo hopes to ultimately end the saga with Executive Chef status in his own restaurant. Clearly, his success can be primarily attributed to his diligence and hard work. But OYAP, the York Catholic District School Board, Humber College and the Chef Alliance have added their own mixture of ingredients, to increase the odds of Michael Piccolo's brilliant future .

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