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Foodies, take note. Diners looking to sip Okanagan wines and savour locally-inspired dishes can once again pull up a chair and enjoy a new dinner menu from the creative minds of OC Culinary and Pastry Arts students and instructors.
Infusions restaurant at the Kelowna campus will be participating in Dine Around Thompson Okanagan which runs Jan. 16 - Feb. 3. Coordinated by the BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association (BCRFA), the Dine Around Thompson Okanagan event is presented by Wines of British Columbia.
For $25, diners can enjoy a choice of starter, main and dessert, each with suggested local wine pairing (wine is extra). Infusions is open for dinner Tuesday to Friday, 5:30 – 8 p.m. Reservations are recommended and can be made online through open table at okanagan.bc.ca/infusions.
Bites include beet and goat cheese napoleons or crab cakes to start, followed by New York striploin, prosciutto wrapped Ling Cod or wild mushroom shepherd’s pie for the main affair, capped off with Frangelico-infused crème brulee or a fresh lemon tart with torched meringue for dessert.
“The menu reflects the techniques and ingredients our students are working with right now, while tapping into their creative ideas and showcasing some of the flavours of the season in the Okanagan,” explains Culinary Manager Chef Vincent Stufano.
“Creating and cooking dishes for Infusions is an invaluable training opportunity for our students,” adds Stufano. “Opportunities like Dine Around pushes our students to step it up, and in turn gives us just occasion to showcase just how much energy, passion and talent our future chefs bring to the table.”
There is also no corkage fee at Infusions, so diners can bring their own BC VQA wine and have it opened at their table at no charge.
OC Culinary Arts students and staff will also be serving up small bites at the Dine Around launch party taking place at Okanagan College on Tuesday, Jan. 15. Tickets for that event are $40+ tax and available online at dinearound.ca.
The Dine Around menu at Infusions will be offered until Wednesday, Jan. 30. From Thursday, Jan. 31 – Friday, Feb. 1, the restaurant will be closed for dinner to accommodate preparations for the Canadian Culinary Championships taking place on Feb. 1-2.
Okanagan College’s kitchens will once again serve as the backdrop for the Black Box Competition – a fast-paced trial that will see 11 of Canada’s top chefs work their magic with a cornucopia of mystery ingredients. As in past years, OC Culinary Arts students will once again have the exciting opportunity to serve as sous chefs to the visiting competitors throughout the various events that make up the two-day competition.
This week, Okanagan College’s Penticton campus is launching a series of presentations designed to inspire the community to embrace its potential in 2019.
“The OC Speaker Series offers the community a chance to learn new things, and the lineup this term features a rich array of topics to motivate and engage people of all ages,” says Eric Corneau, Regional Dean South Okanagan Similkameen. “We want Okanagan College’s Penticton campus to be home to lifelong learning and hope the seats are filled for these free presentations.”
The lineup of experts and authorities will cover a wide range of topics, from the performing arts to sockeye hatchery, vineyard management, politics and technology. A special highlight will be Kikkan Randall, U.S. Olympic cross-country skier who will discuss her journey to the Olympic podium and fight through cancer.
The series includes:
Talks are 7 to 8:30 p.m. in the Lecture Theatre (PL 107) of the Ashnola Building. The Okanagan College Penticton campus is located at 583 Duncan Ave. Admission is by donation, with proceeds going to support students in need.
Event information is available at https://ocspeakersseries.weebly.com/.
Okanagan College Media Release
With many kitchens in the Okanagan and across the province on the hunt for cooks, the College is hosting an info session next week to open doors to culinary careers for the next generation of chefs.
“The industry is screaming for cooks,” says instructor Chef Mike Barillaro. “Over the summer, we heard from restaurants that had to cut back the days they could open because they didn’t have enough cooks. It’s an industry that really needs talented people, so we’re pushing hard to train enough cooks to fulfill the need.”
A new intake of Culinary Arts certificate program will step into the classroom and the teaching kitchen this month. The next round of the program starts in February. Those interested in stepping into the February class are invited to drop into Infusions restaurant at the Kelowna Campus next Monday, Jan. 14 at 5 p.m. to learn more about the program and have their questions answered.
Jeremy Luypen, Executive Winery Chef at Summerhill Pyramid Winery and an alumnus of the program, has been working with the College to train new cooks for the better part of a decade. He visits the very kitchen in which he honed his craft as often as he can to pass on his experiences.
“The best part of being a Culinary instructor is going back and being able to share my experience with the students and showing them that the program does work. I’ve seen a lot of students go through the program, and I’ve hired many too,” he says.
Luypen is also quick to point out that the Okanagan makes an ideal training ground due to its bounty of local ingredients.
“One of the best parts of being a chef in the Okanagan is the food that we get to play with, and the wine that is at our fingertips or lips. It’s amazing what this valley produces. You are truly limited your own imagination and creativity.”
The latest labour market projections suggest that need isn’t going away any time soon. Between now and 2028, B.C. is going to need nearly 12,000 more cooks.
One of those newly minted culinary artists is Courtney Whalen, who will earn her Culinary Arts certificate at the College’s Winter Convocation on Saturday. Whalen will be among 482 graduates that day, spanning programs from Arts to Water Engineering Technology.
Whalen, who is originally from Northern Alberta, will be celebrating two accomplishments on Saturday. She will pick up her credential having already landed a dream opportunity with a buzzing local restaurant.
Last year, through a co-op placement, she found work with Sunny’s Modern Diner. She’s since been hired on beyond that 10-week co-op experience.
“I worked in a bakery when I was younger and my dad went to culinary school but I basically stepped into the program with not a lot of culinary experience. You could say I launched a new career from scratch, basically. It’s been remarkable how quickly it all came together.”
Whalen says the program helped to kindle in her a new direction, after pondering a career in business.
“I discovered I love cooking and making people happy through food,” she says.
Her advice for future chefs-in-training?
“Take notes. One of the things I picked up from the program at the College was the need for constant learning. It never stops.”
“I keep a notebook on me at all times, and I’m always jotting down things the chefs say to me at my current job,” says Whalen. “It’s a very collaborative industry. I’m often getting feedback on my technique, learning more efficient ways to do certain things, and gathering inspiration for new flavours and new recipes.”
More information about the College’s Culinary Arts program is available at okanagan.bc.ca/fwt.
At a time when many are making resolutions to hit the gym, a pair of Okanagan College students are sharing their thoughts on why hitting the books in January may be even more life-changing.
Okanagan College is preparing for another intake of new students for the winter semester starting in January, which often includes mature students and those returning from a break or travel abroad.
Last year, Connor Welsh was one of those students who seized the new year to kick-start his education as the timing would allow him to continue to lend a hand with the family business.
“I started in January because I found it worked better for my schedule,” explains Connor Welsh, whose family owns Country Camping Leisure Products and works long hours during the peak tourist season. “In the summer months, I’m often working the most during the year. That’s when I have the longest hours and am the busiest, so studying in the off-season is better.”
Fast forward to this January, and Welsh finds himself with just one course left to go. He says the College’s small class sizes and personal approach have been critical to his progress, and inspired him to consider additional business education as well.
“From the moment I took a step through the doors, the staff were focused on what I needed to succeed and move forward,” Welsh explains. “It is such a friendly atmosphere, the quality of the education is great, the classroom experience is good because people want to be there, and the instructors care about your learning.”
This year, the College will see more than 21,000 learners attend – the equivalent of more than 8,745 full-time students – at its campuses from the Shuswap to the South Okanagan.
The 2018 British Columbia Labour Market Outlooks predicts 903,000 job openings in the province between now and 2028, with nearly 80 percent requiring workers with some form of post-secondary education.
Welsh also points that flexibility in being able to transfer his education was also a draw to start at the College – a statement echoed by one his peers at the Salmon Arm campus.
Blake Lewis, a recent Ike Barber Transfer Scholarship recipient working towards a bachelor’s degree in education, said starting in January helped him fast-track his academic studies.
“I started in the winter semester because I wanted to make up the time on my studies,” explains Blake Lewis. “It was a hard decision to switch from full-time employment and give up that certainty to become a student, but I think it was worth it.”
The College recently launched a new tool to help students more easily explore programs starting soon at OC campuses. Would-be students can learn more at www.okanagan.bc.ca/startnow.