VIU culinary students plate dishes

Sarah Leduc

Sarah Leduc

Culinary Programs

My interest in food started at the age of 10. When my father was home from working in camp, he would get me to help him cook dinners and weekend breakfasts. It didn’t take much to get me inspired – my parents always supported my cooking and baking projects.

After a few years of waitressing jobs, I decided I wanted to focus my skills in the kitchen. After a day in the VIU Culinary Arts program, I realized that what I did know was, in fact, very little! As the months passed, my passion, knowledge, and own personal style began to form. The Culinary Arts program helped me in many aspects of the culinary world, from both preparation, starting with breaking down whole cuts of meat, preparing and managing stocks and sauces, straight through to line cooking and preparing breads, pastries and desserts. The combination of culinary specialties was very important to me – I have never held a culinary position where I have stayed in one section of the kitchen and believe it is important to stay versatile.

During the last month of the Culinary Arts program, I started my two-week practicum at the Brentwood Bay Lodge and Spa. Not even a week in I was offered a position as the weekend breakfast cook. I stayed at Brentwood Bay Lodge and Spa for two years, eventually moving to garde mange, then up to line cook for the Seagrill, the hotel’s dining room. I worked closely with the sous chef, who moved on to open his own restaurant Café Vieux Montreal (a bistro style Cafe, deli and bakery). I followed him as the head cook, and soon after became the sous chef. After getting a taste for French cuisine, I moved to Montreal. I started at Globe, a resto-bar, as garde mange and later became the pastry chef. After a few months there, I landed a well-paying job with the McGill University Health Centre’s Royal Victoria Hospital as a cook, and worked at the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the Montreal General Hospital as well. After two years of living and working in Montreal, I missed the west coast horribly and decided I wanted another career change, so I packed up and enrolled in the Fisheries and Aquaculture Diploma program at VIU.

In the Fisheries and Aquaculture program I learned a lot about fisheries and where our fish and shellfish come from, about sustainability and research management. During my second year in the program, I started a practicum at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station, which at the time, was a skeleton of a building. I helped with various site jobs and with moving tanks into the building and getting them plumbed in. After graduating the program, I started on as a summer student at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station where we started projects rearing Geoducks, spawning Olympia oysters, and growing algae. There is also a beautiful kitchen and hall, and as the station has grown, I have become the resident Algologist and Cook. My responsibilities as the Algologist is for growing the algae to feed the shellfish, caring for and maintaining the aquariums, touch tanks, animal care, collection permits, and working with Fisheries and Aquaculture students. As the Cook, I am responsible for menu planning, coordinating with culinary student helpers, ordering and maintaining the kitchen, cooking and baking for business meetings, tours, special events and VIP events. No matter where I go, I end up preparing food and the like – be it for critters or people!