The Confederation College Culinary Program
By Chris Servais
Confederation College’s culinary management program is a shining example of a fun, engaging course of study that also hones valuable and functional skills. The program itself is over 30 years old and going as strong as ever; it’s almost always well-subscribed, and consistently reaches capacity or near-capacity (roughly 40 students) every year. Recently, program coordinators have even needed to waitlist interested applicants for lack of room. The program prepares students for the food service industry from all angles, with courses coveringhuman resources, food and beverage control, purchasing, entrepreneurship, butchery, baking, customer service, and more. Many of the courses also feature particular focus on dishes and techniques relevant to regional cuisine.
Ken Veneruz, a local chef and passionate, long-time culinary instructor, points toward the in-kitchen component as one of the program’s most valuable features. “In the third semester, second-year students do a local placement,” he says. “They go into local hotels and restaurants where they are educated in actual food service and preparation positions. They do another regional placement just before graduating. We also have six- or seven-course gourmet dinners, which we sell to the general public. It gives the students access to a higher-end restaurant with full beverage service.”
The practical application of culinary studies is in evidence all over the city. Veneruz identifies a long list of successful local venues employing recent graduates of the program, including Tomlin, The Sov, Gargoyles, Caribou, and the Victoria Inn. In order to become fully accredited as chefs, graduates with a diploma in culinary must work as journeymen with the goal of eventually writing their cook’s papers. The whole process, says Veneruz, typically takes four or five years.
The program’s longevity and high subscription rate reflect the positive experiences of Con College culinary students. “Starting the Culinary Management program was one of the best decisions I ever made,” says current student Megan Steckley. “I find the program challenging yet rewarding. I love learning from the teachers; it’s clear that they are passionate and knowledgeable about the culinary field. [The experience] has given me a starting point to advance my career.”