Friday, October 21, 2016

International Chefs' Day at Northview with Canadian Military Chefs...

It was an extreme honour to celebrate International Chefs' Day (October 20th) at Northview Heights Secondary School organized by the incredible chef-teacher Dimitra K. Attending as an ambassador for Food Revolution Toronto, I got to meet guest chefs from our military and chef members from Oakville's branch of the Canadian Culinary Federation (CCFCC)The chefs joined chef-teachers in the classrooms to experience food programs in high schools, how they connect with their feeder school(s) and with the community. Most professional chefs are familiar with college programs but not with high school culinary programs which is rare in the TDSB (only five high schools currently have a hands-on program). It was indeed a great opportunity to promote SHSM (Specialist High Skills Major- Culinary), OYAP (Ontario Youth Apprenticeship Program) and of course, the necessary life skill of cooking starting in elementary school. It also gave students a glimpse into another avenue in food-- as a cook in one of six trades in combat service support (CSS), to feed and nourish hungry soldiers. The goal as professional chefs is to advocate food education, especially in the elementary Ontario curriculum.  Like-minded, passionate people about food education all together!

Grade 12 Culinary SHSM students taught grade 3's from their feeder elementary school Wilmington P.S. to make raw zucchini rolls- students teaching students! Not only are chef-teacher Dimitra K.'s culinary students taught to cook but also to apply their skills in leading, presenting and teaching in return. A 360 learning environment which is the very best kind there is! Her frequently updated culinary blog showcases her students' talents and great work.

Northview Gr. 12 culinary students commanding the classroom...

... as their very proud chef-teacher Dimitra K. looks on.

Chef Dimitra K. and military chefs from 32 Service Battalion in Southern Ontario

Zucchini ribbons were spread with made-from-scratch hummus, topped with carrot and celery strips, radish slices, sprigs of cilantro and parsley, basil leaves, and rolled up to be enjoyed raw! 

Kids eating and saying how delicious the zucchini rolls were. Some worked really fast to make extra to take home for each member of their family! Truly delightful to see and hear :D!

Raw Zucchini Rolls
Photo Credit: Dimitra Konstantakou

The big feature of the day was a 22-foot military food truck parked at Northview high school for students to experience cooking, "military-style" (for viewing only and not in operation). It was such a learning day for me to hear from an army's perspective about food. A lot has changed in recent years with the typical 70s cafeteria grub revamped. I was happy to hear that food served to our troops is top-notch. Sergeant Karistinos said our Canadian army is the second best fed military in the world. Fresh produce is supplied to the Canadian military wherever they are. Chefs and cooks turn out three complete meals daily many which are restaurant-inspired with health & nutrition input to menus fit for a high-performing athlete! When deployed to serve troops, the culinary team prepare themselves to cook and serve in all kinds of circumstances from extreme arctic cold to desert hot conditions and sometimes with no running water or electricity. Equipment also in the mobile kitchen needs to withstand these extremities and thus working efficiently and effectively is key in feeding an army!

With Sergeant Karistinos

A kitchen of this size will comfortably allow four cooks to serve 150 military people.

A weekly schedule in chef Dimitra K.'s classroom

The Canadian armed forces are actively seeking out in hiring cooks and red seal (Canadian standard of excellence for skilled trades) journey men & women alike to join the Army in a part-time reserves capacity and/or full capacity with the regular forces. Cooks prepare nutritious food items and meals for Canadian Armed Forces members and National Defence employees. It's as easy as applying on under the join as now tab and /or emailing Sgt. Karistinos and his team at 32 Canadian Bridge Group at Eligibility to apply must meet three basic criterias:16-53 years of age, Canadian Citizen, with at least Grade 10 completion and 15 high school credits. Training begins with basic military qualification to an 18-week hands-on course as well as on-the-job and specialty training.

For more on cooking in the military, watch this six-minute video. It rings "the mission is as good as the food is" which shows how important the cook's role is to fully nourish soldiers while in training and in combat. Sgt. Karistinos with his team of recruiters are awaiting and seeking to hear from you on an employment opportunity with the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves with 32 Canadian Bridge Group.

Students preparing cookies while watching an episode on military cooking.

Whether it's feeding yourself, your family or feeding an army, cooking is an essential life skill to nourish healthier lives! Thank you chef Dimitra K., Northview's culinary students and your fantastic guests for a great day of learning! What an amazing way to join forces on a special day to champion food education that we believe so strongly empowers a better future for all Canadians!

Sergeant Karistinos and Corporal Benson

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