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College Culinary students prep for charity

Okanagan College Media

Mona Liza SablayFirst year Okanagan College Culinary Arts students are spending their last week of school giving back to the community.

OC Culinary Instructor Mike Barillaro and Culinary Arts students were busy prepping turkeys, stuffing and gravy this week that will feed over 450 people at an upcoming holiday dinner at Parkinson Rec Centre in Kelowna.

This year marks the 16th annual Christmas Day dinner hosted by Victory Life Fellowship at the Rec Centre.

“We’ve been cooking for this event for about five years now,” says Barillaro. “It’s a great opportunity for the students to give back to the community. It’s a fun way to close out the year and it’s nice knowing that we are bringing this holiday meal to those who might not have had one otherwise.”

The students were eager to participate and proud to be a part of a giving back initiative.

“I’ve never cooked a turkey dinner before this so I’m definitely learning something new,” says Mona Liza Sablay. “It’s very nice to help people when you’re able to. It can be something very simple and it will mean a lot to them. Something as simple as putting a smile on someone’s face, or food in their belly, can be more meaningful than something materialistic.”

The dinner is open to everyone with the belief that no one should be alone on Christmas. Those attending will be treated to a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings, dessert, gift bags, door prizes, games and live entertainment. The event starts at 5 p.m. on Dec. 25.

Prepping the turkey dinner marked the last time these students will be in the kitchen before the holidays.

The next intake of future chefs is in February 2020. There are still a few spots left and prospective students are invited to an Open House on Wed, Jan. 15 from 5 – 7 p.m. in the Lab Kitchen of the Culinary Arts building (F) at the Kelowna campus to learn more. 

You can view more photos of the students prepping for the dinner here.

For more information about Culinary Arts, visit and for more information on the Christmas Day dinner, visit