NANAIMO, B.C. — Vancouver Island University (VIU) Culinary Arts program graduates Perry Assu, Matthew McCamon and Jacinto Bevilacqua are living their culinary dreams, cooking at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler.
Assu, 19, who’s aspired to be a chef since the age of 12, started working at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler last June. He particularly enjoys the fast pace of the kitchen and the many learning opportunities which Fairmont affords him. Living a resort life and snowboarding down the world-renowned slopes of the Whistler Blackcomb ski resort are added bonuses for Assu.
Bevilacqua, 19, started his experience in VIU’s Culinary Arts program while he was still in high school, through the dual-credit program, which allows secondary-school students to work towards completing both their high school diploma and post-secondary certification simultaneously by receiving dual credits for their post-secondary coursework. Bevilaqua says VIU’s Culinary Arts program gave him the knowledge and experience required in the field, which he believes helped him land his current job at Fairmont.
“I encourage anyone who is interested in a career as a chef to go through the program,” he says. “I enjoyed it and it helped me get this position. My favourite part of the job is meeting so many new people and interacting with customers.”
McCamon, who was also a dual-credit student at VIU in his final year of high school, says the best part of the program is the doors it opens. After gaining three years of experience working at the Fairmont Chateua Whistler, McCamon plants to join his girlfriend in Australia and work at a hotel there.
“Without the co-op part of the VIU Culinary program, I would have never been able to get this much experience at such a young age,” he says. “I thought I would be missing out on a lot of things in the last year of high school, but the experiences I had, thanks to VIU, are so much more valuable.”
The three VIU students were initially hired by Fairmont as co-op students, after which they earned apprenticeship positions.
“We are a very busy brigade here, but the VIU program prepared me well for the reality of hotel cooking — the long hours and the heavy workload,” says Assu. “All of my instructors gave me valuable advice that came into play when I got this job. I plan to never leave Fairmont as a company — it’s my goal to one day work my way up the ranks to become an executive chef of a Fairmont hotel.”
The next enrollment periods for VIU’s Culinary Arts program are Jan. 23 and Feb. 14, 2017. Applicants may be eligible for various tax credits and government grants towards tuition costs. More information is available here.
“My advice to current students is to apply for any job you want even if you think it’s out of your league – I did so and got a rewarding career out of it,” Assu says.