Out Of The Frying Pan And Into The Classroom: Why Canada’s Top Chefs Are Returning To School
Career Opportunities From line cooks, to sandwich makers, to butchers, the culinary industry encompasses walks of life. But the ones who are taking the extra step into continuing education are finding work in the loftiest of kitchens.
here’s only one head chef for Canada’s House of Commons, a fact that Certified Master Chef (CMC) Judson Simpson is more than happy to point out. The story of how Simpson rose from filleting fish to acquiring this prestigious position is one peppered with hard work, perseverance, and an unwavering desire to return to school, even when things were going his way.
Embarking on a CMC program is no easy feat for anyone, but for Simpson returning to such a course in his 50s was a tough venture indeed. The reasons for doing so, however, are understandable to anyone with a thirst for knowledge. “I did it because I’m a life-long learner. I’m never satisfied with learning. I constantly crave education. So, that satisfies my need, but it also helps my team,” says Simpson.
It’s this idea of a team effort, the collective knowledge of the cooking staff as a whole that is paramount to someone like Simpson. He may have one of the most distinctive positions in the country but everyone on his squad still learns and grows together, which is why Simpson feels that everyone has benefited from his continuing education.
“The more you educate yourself, the more you’ll be able to share,” says Simpson. “In culinary arts more education and background provides an opportunity to share with your co-workers — in turn it will build a strong brigade, which then provides more opportunities for your clients. The trickle-down effect is immense. I’ve always felt that education is valuable for not only the person pursuing it, but for everybody around them.”
Alongside Simpson in this regard is Rudi Fischbacher, Associate Dean for the School of Hospitality, Recreation, and Tourism at Humber College. He too returned to university in his later years, in order to get an MBA rather than a CMC, but all with the goal of furthering his career in the culinary industry.
“It is essential to fully comprehend what an employer is seeking for their workforce,” says Fischbacher. “Yes, you can get a job in our industry with little or no experience; however, the career options will be limited for advancement. College education provides the necessary skills, techniques, and hands-on experience to launch into a successful career in a very exciting industry. Education should be seen as a life-long part of your career building blocks.”