Cooking up a career at Esquimalt High

Esquimalt High’s culinary arts class gets a boost from red seal chef

Esquimalt High grad Julian Lecky-Harris

Julian Lecky-Harris is doing something his fellow graduates might call crazy.

He went back to high school. By choice.

But the former Esquimalt High student, now 19, isn’t trying to raise his marks or make up any classes.

Instead, he’s helping to revitalize the school’s culinary arts career program after it gave him the motivation and necessary skills to pursue his passion.

“I figured what better way to help the program than to help the students who haven’t done it before,” said Lecky-Harris, who also works part time at Moon over Water brewpub.

“I also wanted the reference for college,” he added, laughing.

That reference, from Esquimalt instructor and red seal chef Brandon Aris, got Lecky-Harris into the culinary arts program Camosun College. He starts in January.

It’s just one success story of a program Lecky-Harris said has sometimes been labeled as a “dumping ground for students who aren’t doing well.”

The stereotype is brushed aside by Aris, who took over the culinary arts program last January, and brings with him nearly 20 years experience in the field.

“They take this program because it’s where they want to go,” Aris said. “I’m training them so that they have the skills to step out into the restaurant industry and not just work in fast food.”

His passion seems infectious as his 16 students scurry from station to station in the cafeteria kitchen, pulling baked cookies from the oven, washing pans and adding flour to a dough mixer.

“Having my trade and my red seal, I knew this is where I wanted to be,” said the former Canoe Brewpub chef. His goal is to restructure the courses so that they better conform to the provincially certified ACE-IT program, which allows dual credit courses for high school students looking to pursue a trade apprenticeship.

Only three other schools in Greater Victoria – Stelly’s, Spectrum and Edward Milne – offer the culinary program, which begins in Grade 10 and expands in Grades 11 and 12. The half-day courses include theory, cafeteria training and cook training.

“When you first step in (to the kitchen), you have no idea what to do,” Lecky-Harris said. “You don’t know how to hold or sharpen a knife, (the) sauces that you need to know how to make and which spices go together, things like that.”

While he did quite well in other trades classes such as woodworking and metal working, he said the creativity of culinary arts is most appealing. “I like the way you can make it taste, make it look,” he said.

Aris couldn’t say how many of his 16 current students will go on to be chefs, but hopes the program will benefit from his dedication to his new line of work.

“This program has gone through numerous instructors in the last 10 years, so there’s been no continuity,” he said. “It’s a process to restructure how things work.”

It may not take as long as he thinks. Like any good teacher, he’s energized when he sees his students succeed, and already he has examples to draw upon.

Last spring, Aris helped two former students make a gingerbread house for the Royal Conservatory of Music’s annual fundraiser.

“It was auctioned off and it ended up going for $475 at the auction,” he said. “You should have seen the look on their faces.”

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Traditional pit cooking demonstration slated

For a change in culinary delights, Esquimalt High’s First Nations studies class students are trying traditional pit cooking. They’ll demonstrate how to cook root vegetables by digging a hole in the ground and covering it with foliage. The students will show how to smoke salmon as well. The event happens Dec. 11 at 10:30 a.m. beside the school, 847 Colville Rd.

Just Posted

Colwood mayor pitches ferry as commuter alternative

Mayor Rob Martin says different modes of transportation need to be considered

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

Victoria residents and businesses could see a jump in property taxes

A change in health premium coverage could prompt an increase in taxes for 2019

Bouquet sales support big dreams in Greater Victoria

Country Grocer features holiday bouquets for Help Fill a Dream

Emerald Gloves boxing brings fights to Langford

Langford’s Matt Daniels dropped weight for debut

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Greater Victoria holiday craft fair roundup for Nov. 16 to 18

Check off all of the items on your shopping list at these great events

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 14

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

Port Alberni convenience store robbed

Police still searching for suspect

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Most Read