While growing up, Sik-e-dakh (Glen Vowell Band) member Kateleen Prevost didn’t like to cook and that made her the oddball in a family where everyone liked to be in the kitchen. One day she said, “I’m going to learn how to cook, you guys, and show you how it’s done.”
Kateleen made the decision to enroll in Northwest Community College’s (NWCC) Culinary Arts program, “because it was close to home.” But the close proximity of NWCC to her hometown was not the only selling point when choosing the college to learn her trade.
The mother of a three-year-old was surprised by the large culinary arts training facility that features equipment currently used in commercial kitchens. “They have everything – dish pits, convection ovens, bakery ovens – it’s amazing. I get to work with all of it,” says Kateleen. One of the ovens can be operated by students using an iPad.
As impressed as Kateleen is by the training facilities, she is more impressed by the chefs she is learning from. “I see all the chefs going to work and being really busy. They are amazing. It makes me want to be a professional chef.” At the beginning of the year, Kateleen doubted she would be able to keep up with the chefs, “I thought, ‘I can’t do that. I will be in the way.’ ”
Kateleen and her colleagues rotate every three weeks and learn new training stations that focus on different aspects of the profession, including preparing vegetables and starch foods, bakery goods and garnishing. “Last month everyone was working in the kitchen and we were really on point. I looked around and said, ‘Hey guys! Here we are!’ ”
This comradery is something Kateleen has found at NWCC and appreciates. She describes herself as shy, but has found that working with her fellow students and the chefs has brought her out of her shell, “I’ve made a lot of new friends. We know how to work together and we always help when someone is behind. I really love working with them.”
The next steps for Kateleen after she finishes her first year is to complete her second year of studies, and then apply to the Canadian Armed Forces to serve as a professional chef, “I’ve always wanted to join the forces. My biological mother was in the forces. So were my aunties and uncles.”
Kateleen’s hard work is already starting to pay off and a recent visit home gave her the opportunity to impress her family, “I was helping my sister in the kitchen and she asked me to dice some vegetables. I was quickly done and my sister said, ‘Katy you’ve changed. You’re so fast.’ ”
Her sister isn’t the only one taking note of how much Kateleen’s learned, “I don’t know what I would be doing right now if I wasn’t going to NWCC. This course is amazing and this is a school that I’ve actually stayed at. I’m very proud of how far I’ve come.”