OC alum honoured for culinary contributions in the kitchen and classroom

By College Relations | October 6, 2022

Chef Rob Walker and OCAA President, Kara Kazimer
Chef Rob Walker and OCAA President, Kara Kazimer

An award-winning local chef has earned the highest accolade bestowed by Okanagan College’s Alumni Association (OCAA). And the sweetest part? The nomination came from those following in his footsteps – his students.

Chef Rob Walker is the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award from OCAA. The award recognizes Chef Walker’s outstanding contributions within his community and industry.

The OCAA has been conferring the Distinguished and Young Alumni Awards since 2002 to honour the extraordinary contributions and recognize the positive impact that OC’s graduates have in improving the lives of those around them.

“I grew up in the Kootenays not really knowing what I wanted to do with my life,” says Chef Walker. “But I always loved food. The question in the back of my head was ‘How do I become a chef?’ I had my eye on the Okanagan Valley so making the decision to come to Okanagan College was easy.”

Chef Walker completed the Culinary Arts Certificate program in 2001 from Okanagan University College. Training and working in the valley, he was apprenticed and mentored by chefs from Culinary Team B.C.

He also spent time working in Vancouver as he cultivated his skills, completing his apprenticeship and red seal training. But his heart was in the Okanagan valley and he moved back in 2008.

“The Okanagan is full of so much bounty,” says Walker. “It really is a mecca for cooks since we’re surrounded by wineries, orchards, farmers and so many other purveyors.”

Chef Walker is passionate about highlighting local produce in his cooking. Working in many Okanagan restaurants, Chef Walker shares knowledge and skills in those settings, as well as instructing in the Centre for Culinary Arts at OC, where he got his start.

Chef Walker was nominated for the award by students he instructed at the Centre for Culinary Arts at OC.

“What impressed us the most was how he took us as individuals,” says Mariko Nagata, a former student in the culinary program. “He got to know us, finding out about our backgrounds, experiences and what areas we wanted to improve – he tailored the training for each of us.”

Chef Walker received his award Wednesday night at the OCAA’s awards ceremony at the College’s Kelowna campus.

Tags: Distinguished Alumni Award, OC Alumni Association



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