Meet Kelsey Oudendag, Culinary Arts Instructor

Culinary Arts Chef and Instructor Kelsey Oudendag in the kitchen

'We tend to learn so much more by making mistakes than we do by doing something perfectly'

Q: What is your education and background?

A: Professional Cooking Diploma from SAIT (Southern Alberta Institute of Technology), a Red Seal Certificate (RSE) from Alberta Industry Training Authority, and Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant (CHNC) from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition.

Q: What is your area of interest?

A: My area of interest lies in nutrition and professional cooking. I very much love marrying the two together! I find the general public is becoming more interested in eating more balanced and wholesome meals that make them feel well.  The chef in me also wants to ensure these wholesome foods taste delicious as well! I love researching and developing recipes around this belief and sharing them with others that want to do the same.

Q: When did you know you had found your discipline?

A:  I discovered my love of educating while running my own business. I co-owned a yoga retreat and tourism business, which operated yoga retreats around Alberta and B.C. One of my primary roles in this business was creating the menus for these retreats which involved accommodating dietary restrictions, allergies and medical conditions. I incorporated cooking classes within the yoga retreats as I felt it was valuable to help educate guests on how to prepare nutritious whole foods for themselves. The discipline of educating feels very natural to me.

Q: Why did you choose to work at Okanagan College?

A: I moved to the Okanagan from Calgary, Alberta, to accept an instructor position at the College. I chose to work at Okanagan College because I want to teach Culinary Arts in one of the most gorgeous and diverse areas that supports the love of food, agriculture, wine and culinary history.

Q: What do you like most about the work you do?

A: I love empowering future cooks with the knowledge and skills to move forward with their goals. Most days in the kitchen with our students don’t feel like work, I get to play with and talk about food all day! If I didn’t work at the College I would probably be doing this anyways.

Q: Favourite teaching experience?

A: My favourite teaching experience occurred while teaching an apprentice cook program to a class of Indigenous students of the Blackfoot heritage from the Sikisika Nation. I think this is one of my favourite teaching experiences because I got to learn so much from my students. While I was educating this group on French culture, history, techniques and methods, they shared with me traditional Indigenous language, recipes, methods and beliefs around food. There was this lovely exchange of ideas, stories and food.

Q: Who gave you the best advice you ever received?

A: I don’t think I get good advice from just one person. When I feel I need advice, I go to many people with different backgrounds and beliefs (other chefs, friends, my parents). I believe doing this will provide me with well-rounded ideas that I can make a solid decision from.

Q: What advice do you have for new students?

A: Don’t be afraid to make mistakes! Especially in the kitchen. Students tend to want to do things perfectly. My belief is that we tend to learn so much more by making mistakes than we do by doing something perfectly.

Q: Why do you think people should study Culinary Arts?

A: The cook trade is a good choice of study if you are interested in being a life-long learner, you prefer applying what you learn in a real-world environment, if you want to travel, work and learn about other cultures and you like to work as part of a team or brigade.

Q: If you could go back in time, is there anything you would do differently?

A: Nothing!

Q: Where are you the happiest?

A: I am happiest outdoors. I love to ski up at Big White, swim or paddle on Kalamalka Lake, mountain bike around Rose Valley or just hike up Knox Mountain. The Okanagan is truly a beautiful place to live!

Published By College Relations on December 9, 2020

Culinary Arts

Feed your passion. Grow your culinary career in the heart of the Okanagan Valley. Programs focus on a farm-to-table approach, exploring fresh local products. Commercial kitchen spaces allow students to learn the latest techniques from Red Seal-certified chef instructors.

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