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Greater Essex County District School Board
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Westward to the Rockies for Chef
The busy community kitchen where Drew Ferriss honed his cooking skills through his Co-op placement has paid off for the Century Secondary School graduate.
Ferriss, who trained at the Unemployed Help Centre’s Community Kitchen, is the first of many Windsor-trained cooks that has moved on. Ferriss is starting his new career at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel in Banff, Alberta. His former instructor, Robert Catherine hopes that Ferriss is the start of something special.drew ferriss 1.jpg
Under Catherine, the 18-year old Ferriss gained experience through the Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program, learning the trade for 18 months.
“Chef put in a really good reference,” said Ferriss (right).
When Catherine got word of the open positions for cooks (through his son, a sous-chef at the property) at the Alberta resort, he encouraged his former student to apply. Ferriss packed his bags and by November 2014, he was heading west to take the position of second cook, the first step in the chef ladder.
There is a different clientele, between the UHC, whose kitchen produces meals for local initiatives like Meals on Wheels, and the hotel restaurant which serves guests of the resort with a kitchen staff of 280 people.
Ferriss talked about his workload on Family Day, saying that he had about 15 minutes to get a meal ready to serve but also that he had to prepare 500 meals that day.
Cleanliness, speed and organization are just some of the habits that are stressed at the Fairmont property.
Catherine thinks that, being involved with the community kitchen through the OYAP and Co-op programs were benefits for the grad to make the cut out west.
“We teach the basics, “said Catherine who explained that this prepares them for a career and the positive is that they know the fundamentals.
Executive Chef from the Fairmont Banff Springs, JW Foster says there are many opportunities for students with Fairmont owning hotels all over the world. Apprentices can work anywhere and even branch out on their own. Foster says that there are 30 apprentices working at the hotel from all over Canada and there is talk of growing the teaching aspect of their work experience.
Ferriss would like to apply for the hotel’s three-year apprenticeship program which will allow him to work in all of the 11 hotel kitchens and banquet facilities gaining a wide range of experience from making sushi to smoking meat and from pickling to pastry making.
(photos in story, courtesy of Tyler Brownbridge/The Windsor Star)