The winter season looks a little different for Culinary Management graduate Andrew Craig. Instead of icy cold, snowy weather, the Class of 2012 alum is enjoying sunshine and a warm breeze in beautiful Hawaii.
idea of ‚Äėaloha‚Äô is very present and I‚Äôve learned to embrace this. I‚Äôm truly
enjoying my time on the island,‚ÄĚ said Andrew about his Maui lifestyle.
Andrew is the Food and Beverage Manager at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui, where he is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the LUANA Lounge and assists with managing the KŇć Restaurant. The Fleming graduate ensures high standards are met and continuously elevates the experience. He also processes orders, staffing, scheduling, forecasting and event organization for the outlet.
love being able to create a personalized and memorable experience,‚ÄĚ said
Andrew. ‚ÄúI strive to keep everyone happy in the operation so that we can all
work together to create amazing moments for other guests and colleagues.‚ÄĚ
Andrew relocated to Maui recently for this opportunity with Fairmont. Prior to this role, Andrew was an Assistant Manager at the Fairmont Royal York, a Manager at the Library Bar in the Fairmont Royal York, and spent two years as a Supervisor at the Fairmont Banff Springs through the Fairmont‚Äôs Leadership Development Program (now called the Inspire Program).¬†
learning doesn‚Äôt stop once you‚Äôve finished your program,‚ÄĚ said Andrew. ‚ÄúThere
is always a new method or variation to be learned about and that‚Äôs half of the
fun in the job. I‚Äôm always taking every opportunity to expand my learning and
it‚Äôs played a big part in my career taking me to where it is now.‚ÄĚ
graduating from Fleming College, Andrew went on to earn his Bachelor of Applied
Business – Hospitality Operations Management at Niagara College, applying some
of his Fleming College credits towards a degree. Andrew said he utilized many
of the skills he developed at Fleming to succeed in university.
gained a kitchen skillset that taught me everything from mise en place through
restaurant service execution. I even had the opportunity to create my own
business with The Corner on Sixth, which gave me the chance to work through all
the many variables associated with running a restaurant,‚ÄĚ said Andrew about the
skills he developed at Fleming College. ‚ÄúIt was an amazing experience that not
only showed me many classic culinary techniques and recipes through the labs
and classes, but allowed for countless opportunities for off-site events that
honed my hospitality skillset in real-world scenarios.‚ÄĚ
said he would recommend the Culinary Management program to others, saying,
‚ÄúAbsolutely! It has given me the knowledge and wherewithal to confidently carry
out my hospitality career in both culinary and front-of-house managerial
Sophie Crowder remembers the nervous excitement she felt
entering the Toronto Congress Centre, taking in the grandeur of Canada‚Äôs
largest skilled trade and technology competition.
In Skills Canada ‚Äď Ontario, skilled trade and technology
students aim to impress their educators, family, friends and prospective
employers, competing for Gold, Silver, or Bronze medals and the opportunity to
compete at the Skills Canada National Competition. From there, competitors may
go on to the WorldSkills Competition.
This was Sophie‚Äôs first experience at Skills Canada ‚Äď Ontario, having just completed her first semester of Fleming‚Äôs Culinary Management program. Sophie was joined at the competition by faculty mentor Steve Benns and fourth-semester student Kayla Daluz, who was competing for her second time.
‚ÄúHaving this opportunity in my second semester is a
privilege,‚ÄĚ said Sophie. ‚ÄúI felt as prepared as I could be. I trained five days
per week two weeks prior to the competition, working from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on
Each year, Fleming Culinary enters two students in the
culinary arts competition at Skills Canada ‚Äď Ontario. The first-year student is
expected to try their best and take in the competition so they feel fully
prepared next time, and the second-year student is expected to enter as a
strong competitor ready for the challenge.
In the culinary arts category, students complete two
modules. For Module 1,
Mushroom Goug√®re: Shitake and shimeji mushrooms,
bacon, green onions and brie stuffed in parmesan choux pastries
Cured Trout Appetizer: Quick cured trout on
crispy brioche rounds topped with grainy mustard and chive cream cheese and a
candied fennel chutney
Roasted Beet Tart: Slow-roasted beets, red onion
marmalade, thyme, goat cheese and pistachios served in a savoury tart
Shimeji Mushroom Goug√®re: Pan-seared shimeji
mushrooms, bacon, roasted red pepper and brie stuffed between parmesan and
gruyere choux pastries topped with a lemon, white wine, chive and chili jelly
Cured Trout Open-Faced Sandwich: Quick cured
trout on crispy challah points topped with chive cream cheese, pickled
shallots, and a candied fennel and mango chutney
Waldorf ‚ÄúStyle‚ÄĚ Tart: Celery root, royal gala
apples, mint, goat cheese and pistachios served in a savoury tart
and for Module 2,
Lobster Cannelloni: Fresh egg pasta stuffed with
lobster, shallots and tarragon, finished with lobster glaze, tomato confit,
chive white wine butter sauce and microgreens
Lobster Cappelletti: Pasta stuffed with lobster,
fennel and shallots, finished with tomato confit, lobster glaze, citrus
vinaigrette and microgreens
Deconstructed Lemon Meringue Pie: Lemon curd,
tuile cookie and Italian meringue finished with raspberry sauce, a sugar stick,
and assorted fruit
Although Sophie and Kayla were separate competitors, Sophie
was pleased her work station was beside her Culinary Management peer. It gave Sophie
the opportunity to not only work on her dishes, but observe a seasoned pro.
‚ÄúShe was calmer than I was. She carried herself well and
followed her plan step-by-step. The way she carried through her work impacted
me and I‚Äôll remember it for next year,‚ÄĚ said Sophie.
Kayla said she did feel calmer her second time at the
‚ÄúI was super nervous my first year and I didn‚Äôt know where
anything was. It was way easier the second time around, I knew how things were
laid out, I knew where the ingredients were, I knew what to expect,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI
felt prepared. We trained a lot; every opportunity I had in between classes I
was training. And then straight everything for two weeks leading up to the
competition. I got to the point where I could measure by eye.‚ÄĚ
It was worth the hard work and effort, as Sophie earned 5th
Place and Kayla took home a Bronze Medal.
‚ÄúSophie, I am blown away. She is crazy talented just going
into the program, and getting 5th on her first time? She will go
somewhere,‚ÄĚ said Kayla, who added that she placed 7th her first time
competing. ‚ÄúAnd I love Chef Benns. I spend a lot of time with him training and
I am so grateful to be training under him. He is super talented.‚ÄĚ
For Sophie, the competition was spectacular, and she is
excited to compete again next year.
‚ÄúOntario Skills was just spectacular, and it didn‚Äôt feel
real until the closing ceremony. It took a long time to get here and I was so
proud!‚ÄĚ said Sophie. ‚ÄúI was taking photos of Kayla at the podium all teary eyed
like a proud mom. Everything happens for a reason and I‚Äôm doing what I get to do
and what I‚Äôm meant to do. I am so grateful.‚ÄĚ
A Culinary Career Path
For both Kayla and Sophie, the path to Culinary Management
was not easy.
When Kayla got pregnant in high school, she waited until her
son was older to pursue her education. She went to PACE, which offers students
the opportunity to earn college credits, and Kayla signed up for a dual credit
in Fleming‚Äôs Culinary program.
‚ÄúMy chef instructor pulled me aside and recommended I
continue this because he said I‚Äôm good at it,‚ÄĚ said Kayla. ‚ÄúThat meant a lot to
me. I‚Äôm here now and the chefs are all proud of me, so I know I‚Äôm doing good
Kayla‚Äôs advice to students at PACE is to find a career they
‚ÄúIf you love it, it comes,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúWhen I walk in that
kitchen, I feel a wave of happiness. If you love it, it‚Äôs there, it‚Äôs worth it.
Seeing people‚Äôs reactions to my food, saying ‚ÄėI couldn‚Äôt do this! It‚Äôs crazy,
it‚Äôs like art!‚Äô‚ÄĒthat makes it worth it.‚ÄĚ
She admits that training for the culinary industry and for competitions
can be ‚Äúhard, tiring and frustrating‚ÄĚ with a four-year-old, but is grateful for
her support system.
‚ÄúMy support system is great, especially my mom. She wants me
in ‚ÄėTop Chef,‚Äô she thinks I can go far,‚ÄĚ said Kayla. ‚ÄúAnd my son is proud of it
now. I showed him my medal to explain all that I‚Äôve worked for, and he was
excited and he‚Äôs proud.‚ÄĚ
For Sophie, a culinary career didn‚Äôt seem possible for her
due to health concerns.
When Sophie was 15, she slipped on wrapping paper and fell.
Although she felt sore, Sophie wasn‚Äôt concerned until days later when her thigh
was severely swollen. She visited her family doctor, who wrote Sophie a note
for the hospital saying he suspected she had a blood clot.
Unfortunately, Sophie had to wait nine hours at the hospital
as the clots spread. Once she was able to see a doctor, she had some blood
tests done, followed by an ultrasound. When Sophie was wheeled out of the
ultrasound, that‚Äôs when she realized something was wrong.
The accident had crushed Sophie‚Äôs collateral veins. The
doctor injected Sophie with blood thinners and sent her to Sick Kids Hospital,
who told Sophie if she had sat for another hour in the hospital her leg
would‚Äôve been amputated. She had ongoing healthcare treatments, including blood
thinners, and was told culinary required too much standing for her to pursue.
Instead of culinary school, Sophie moved to Peterborough
from Mississauga to study anthropological archaeology at Trent University.
While she enjoyed finding connections between archeology and her passion (such
as food vessel artifacts from Pompeii) and loved living in the city of
Peterborough, Sophie still dreamed of a culinary career.
When her health improved and her doctor gave Sophie the all
clear to study Culinary Management, she dropped out of archaeology and signed
up for Culinary Management at Fleming College.
‚ÄúI have a riser on my cutting board, I wear a back brace
sometimes while cooking, and I wear compression socks,‚ÄĚ said Sophie. ‚ÄúBut this
is the dream. I am so grateful I get to do it.‚ÄĚ
Sophie, who began Culinary Management this January, will
start training for the next Skills Canada ‚Äď Ontario competition in September.
She hopes to create a fine-tuned action plan, get her timing down, and come in
feeling more prepared.
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs such a cool experience,‚ÄĚ she said. ‚ÄúI wouldn‚Äôt trade
it for the world.‚ÄĚ
Kayla, who graduates from Fleming College this June, has
been hired at Rolling Grape Vineyard as the Executive Chef. She will create a
food program from scratch, which includes building a wood-burning oven for
pizzas and growing fresh herbs.
‚ÄúA huge bonus for me is that I can stay included at Fleming
College because of the Culinary program‚Äôs collaboration with Rolling Grape,‚ÄĚ
said Kayla. ‚ÄúI‚Äôve asked the chefs here what it takes to teach. They have given
me so much, so I‚Äôd like to give back.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúIt was a great time, a great life experience to remember forever,‚ÄĚ said Braden, a Chef Training student at Fleming College.
Kylie, who is in the Culinary Management program, agrees. ‚ÄúIt was a very positive experience. We got to network with different chefs and different people from different places,‚ÄĚ 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. ‚ÄúIt was hard to stay positive during the race part, because we were coming in last and I felt like ‚Äėwe suck.‚Äô But all that matters was the cooking,‚ÄĚ said Kylie.
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.
‚ÄúThey 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,‚ÄĚ said Chef Benns. ‚ÄúThe culinary competition by King Cole Ducks is always a great event and our students had a really good time.‚ÄĚ
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.
‚ÄúAlthough Fleming didn‚Äôt 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‚Äôm 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.‚ÄĚ
Braden and Kylie are now busy gearing up for Skills Ontario in May, where they will compete in the Post-Secondary Competition. Good luck!