Matthew Brohm’s culinary career is his passion, not a ‘job’

Food means more than nourishment to Matthew Brohm. For the Chef Training graduate, food is his passion.

“I love making food that makes you melt inside, I want to make food that makes you chew just a little slower, I want it to make you think ‘wow’ and practically be speechless,” he said. “My job is not my job, my job is my passion. Everything about it, I love.”

Growing up, Matthew dreamed of a culinary career. He would happily tell family and friends that he would be a chef one day.  

“I was always in the kitchen watching, smelling and listening to the crackling or sizzling,” said Matthew. “Cooking was my passion before I even knew it.”

In high school, Matthew competed in culinary competitions, volunteered to cook and serve assorted buffets, and graduated with a Specialist High Skills Major (SHSM) in Hospitality. After deciding that college was his next step, Matthew participated in Student for the Day multiple times at Fleming College to see if his local college was the right fit.

“So already I was very familiar with Fleming and knew the instructor chefs very well,” said Matthew. “For myself, there was no better choice than Fleming.”

Matthew enrolled in the Chef Training program, which is now called Culinary Skills, and graduated in 2016.

“My Fleming College experience couldn’t have been better,” he said. “Having the professors actually know your name and want you to succeed is amazing. It’s more than just a classroom, it was a community where everyone cared and the students were not just a number.”

Through the program, Matthew said he developed the skills and knowledge to grow his culinary career.

“The program helped me grow as a professional in so many ways. Cooking is obvious, but what I took for granted then, I am now so grateful I learned,” he explains.

Matthew credits being able to use Excel, place food orders, cost out menu items, understand front of house, and supervise as a sous chef in labs as some of the skills he developed at Fleming that have proved useful in his career.

“There is so much you can get out of the program. It all has fast-tracked my career in the culinary industry,” he said.

Matthew currently works as the Sous Chef at Silvertip Resort in Canmore, Alberta. He is responsible for ensuring the kitchen runs smoothly, helps create menu items, places food orders, ensures food quality, helps progress and train new cooks, runs the line on busy nights, cleans and scrubs ovens, delegates tasks and more.

His most memorable career moment was as a chef de partie, when he was asked to train a kitchen steward who didn’t have any cooking experience.

“It wasn’t an easy task, but within two weeks I had given him a drive. He wanted to learn and wanted to succeed. By one month, he could hold his ground and kept up with everyone,” said Matthew. “Now he’s in school for culinary. It was an awesome feeling knowing I had an impact in his career choice.”

Matthew said he recommends Fleming College to others who are considering a culinary career.

“By the end of this program, you will have real work experience and be able to hold your ground in any kitchen,” he said. “I would recommend this program over and over again.”

Culinary students deliver at the King Cole Amazing Duck Race

Braden Lawther, Kylie Piney, and Chef Steve Benns
Braden Lawther, Kylie Piney, and Chef Steve Benns

Congratulations to Fleming College students Braden Lawther and Kylie Piney, who earned 3rd Place this weekend in the King Cole Amazing Duck Race!

The farm-to-fork recipe competition for culinary students was hosted on Saturday, April 1 by King Cole Ducks Limited. The event began bright and early with students collecting eggs, showcasing knife skills in the farm, and then travelling to the St. Lawrence Market in Toronto to shop for ingredients. Teams then arrived at their last stop, George Brown College, for the cook off. The goal was to create the best duck appetizer and entrée.

Braden and his teammate Kylie created duck sliders and a delicious duck trio for the competition, which earned them 3rd Place against other colleges in Ontario. They were judged on creativity, practicality, kitchen skills, appearance and flavor by a judging panel featuring Duff Lampard, Executive Chef at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre; Robert Mills, Executive Chef at The Fairmont Royal York; Jesse Mutch, Executive Chef at Chantecler; and Lucy Waverman, Editor of Food & Drink magazine.

“It was a great time, a great life experience to remember forever,” said Braden, a Chef Training student at Fleming College.

Kylie, who is in the Culinary Management program, agrees. “It was a very positive experience. We got to network with different chefs and different people from different places,” she said.

The biggest challenge for Kylie was remaining positive throughout the competition, as the team was not raking in points during the race portion of the challenge; whereas Braden was most concerned about time management, and ensuring the food was delivered on time and hot. “It was hard to stay positive during the race part, because we were coming in last and I felt like ‘we suck.’ But all that matters was the cooking,” said Kylie.

Kylie Piney and Braden Lawther during their practice round in Fleming's Kitchen Lab
Kylie Piney and Braden Lawther during their practice round in Fleming’s Kitchen Lab

And the team was well-prepared to deliver a delicious meal. On Thursday, March 30, Kylie and Braden worked with their professor, Chef Steve Benns, in the Sutherland Campus Kitchen Lab to practice their dishes. Staff were invited to sample the duck dishes and offer a critique.

“They did a really good job! They practiced at Fleming College before travelling to Toronto and went in with a good plan that helped them execute a good day at the competition,” said Chef Benns. “The culinary competition by King Cole Ducks is always a great event and our students had a really good time.”

Fanshawe College won 1st Place and the Canadian Food and Wine Institute (Niagara College) came in 2nd Place. Other competitors include Canadore College, Centennial College, Durham College, George Brown College, Georgian College, Humber College, and St. Clair College.

“Although Fleming didn’t win, it is a little bittersweet for me to see Fanshawe College win. Their mentor, Kyle Fee, is a Fleming graduate who was a student here during my first year of teaching, so I’m excited to see him succeed. Although the event is a competition, all of us enjoy the networking aspect of the King Cole Amazing Duck Race and it really is a great opportunity for everyone.”

Braden and Kylie are now busy gearing up for Skills Ontario in May, where they will compete in the Post-Secondary Competition. Good luck!