Serving up success

By Jerelyn Craden

Published May 9 2017

Cook it well and they will come. Serve it well and they will stay. Create a unique menu every time and they will come again. Over nine consecutive Mondays 450 customers packed Baked & Battered in Haliburton for SIRCH Community Services’ popular Cook it Up program – lunches planned prepared cooked and served by nine trainees who graduated season three on May 2 with confidence experience skills and invaluable food service certificates.

Diane McKnight food initiatives co-ordinator for SIRCH is grateful to be a part of it and to the City of Kawartha Lakes for funding and Baked & Battered owners Craig Gordon and Colby Marcellus for donating the use of their restaurant. “We couldn’t do it without them. Every graduate from seasons one and two are employed and some of our new graduates already have jobs.”

Adam Burbidge 26 was employed by McKecks before season two ended. “Chef Aaron Walker came in to talk to us about employment opportunities at McKecks. I approached him after class and he invited me to bring in a resume. I decided to pursue an apprenticeship and … I’ve been working there for a little over a year. I love it especially in the summer when it’s busy and hectic. It makes an 11 hour shift feel like half an hour.”

Katie Peddie 28 a licensed carpenter loves the program. “Nobody up here [in Haliburton] wanted to give a 110-pound woman carpentry work. The program gave me a new career. I love everything about it – the people the friendliness and the training. And now I have my Smart Serve and Safe Food Handling certificates which had everything to do with my being hired by the Mill Pond [in Carnarvon] as third chef. I love being in the kitchen and I look forward to going to work every morning.”

Brenda Coty instructor in “front of house” and customer service said: “There are certain rules for serving properly and guidelines on how to speak with customers – which topics of conversation are best how long to talk and how to be professional. Just taking this course is success in itself.”

Trainee Sonya Paterson 59 thinks the world of Coty and McKnight. “I used to be nervous in stressful situations and they taught me how to remain calm and have fun when stressful things come up.”

Previously a landscaper Paterson found that it was becoming too difficult. In October 2016 she started doing “food prep” at Kosy Korner (in Haliburton) and is still working there. “I took the program because I knew I would be more of a benefit to any employer in the hospitality business. I’ve learned so much.”

Nineteen-year-old Robert Nicholls always wanted to be a prep cook.

“My father was a professional cook and baker and I learned knife skills and basic prep work from him. The CIU [Cook It Up] program has improved my knife skills and boosted my confidence. My conversational skills are stronger and I’ve even gotten compliments on my serving skills.” On graduation day Gena Robertson executive director SIRCH received thanks from the new graduates Katie Peddie Stephanie Pethick Jossie Yeoman Sonya Paterson Elisa Garcia Robert Nicholls Leslie Ellis Corinne Bailey and Brent Maxwell.