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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

Youth Force
Recipe for success

By Linda White
Special to the Toronto Sun


For students wanting to work as a chef in today's growing hospitality industry, a heaping measure of experience blended with just the right amount of skills and guidance can be the Recipe for Success.
OYAP has allowed students such as Dialo Kinghorn to fast track their career.


That's the name of a program offered at Turner Fenton Secondary School in Brampton. A dedicated hospitality/chef training program, it's offered in partnership with Cara Operations and local businesses. The Peel District School Board will offer it as a regional program beginning next fall.

"Students acquire specific skills, such as safe food handling," says instructor Brent Coakwell. He designed the program along with chef Robert Penman, who had hired him out of high school as an apprentice. Each has worked at the Old Mill in Toronto and Valhalla Meridian Hotels in Vancouver.

The program runs from February through June and is open to students in Grades 11 and 12. Students spend the first month in the classroom before beginning a co-op placement that can lead to summer employment.

"It's a very demanding and very stressful career, however, it is very rewarding," says Coakwell. "You don't have to be an 'A' student to do well in a kitchen. You do have to have the personal skills. Students who have drive, are organized and flexible and who love working with people can be very successful."
WHAT KIND OF CHEF DO YOU WANT TO BE?
  • Executive chefs plan and direct food preparation/ cooking activities, plan menus and estimate food quantities/ costs, ensure standards of quality are met, supervise sous-chefs, specialist chefs, chefs and cooks and recruit/hire staff.
  • Sous-chefs supervise specialist chefs, chefs and cooks, demonstrate new techniques and equipment to staff, prepare/cook meals and may plan menus.
  • Specialist chefs and chefs prepare and cook complete meals or specialty foods, instruct cooks in food preparation/ presentation, supervise cooks and may plan menus.
  • Information from Job Futures, Human Resources Development Canada (www.jobfutures.ca)


  • Students registered with the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program (OYAP) receive cooperative education credits toward their high school diploma, while the hours they work on the job are put toward journeyperson certification.

    OYAP has allowed students like Dialo Kinghorn to fast track their career. "I've always liked cooking and after taking baking and chef training classes, I knew I wanted to become a chef," he says. "It will take me several years to complete my apprenticeship, but I'm already on the right path."

    The Grade 11 student recently earned a silver medal in a regional skills competition. He is working at the Brampton Golf Club, where he prepares food for banquets and fine dining and does some ordering and inventory work.

    Employer John Galea recognizes the value of apprenticeship. "I fully believe in apprenticeship training," says the executive chef. "It's structured learning that forces apprentices to learn skills. The chef they're working for has to sign off on everything they learn."

    OYAP is a great motivator, Galea believes. "As an employer, you know these students want to do this for a living and are going to be responsible. Dialo is a perfect example. He's a pleasure to have here. He comes in here with a smile on his face every day and never complains about anything you ask him to do."



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