By: Tim Chester, President, International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 963
When Chef Chad Stuart teaches his Culinary Arts program students at Vancouver Technical Secondary School each day, he brings a world of cooking experiences to them.
That's because Chad has travelled and cooked professionally in countries as different as Switzerland and Japan, as well as working in some of Vancouver's top restaurants before joining Van Tech in 2001.
"Even as a kid I wanted to be a chef," Chad says. He attended culinary school at British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), then worked overseas and in Banff in major hotel kitchens before returning to four-star Vancouver restaurants like Il Giardino and Bistro Pastis and then Van Tech.
"I found it was an interesting opportunity to teach and share my knowledge – if I couldn't teach, I wouldn't be here," he explains. "Public school is a gateway into your adult career, especially if you aren't going to university. It's about opening kids' eyes to opportunities."
Chad says he has taught 2,800 students since he started in Culinary Arts as a certified Red Seal chef.
"Numerous students have succeeded both in the industry and elsewhere because of the lessons they learned here," he said.
"The students get priceless information from my experiences. Some come back and see me and several students have gone pretty high in the culinary trade – maybe 100 or more."
"It's basically a culinary school in a high school, where you learn things you'll keep using forever. They learn what food is, how to shop for food, healthy eating habits and more."
That's why while most students take one Culinary Arts course per term, spending three to four hours a week in the teaching cafeteria, others keenly take three, putting in 12 hours a week.
But Culinary Arts – an elective course – isn't just for aspiring Iron Chefs.
"Most students come to learn to cook," Chad explains, adding that many start as school cafeteria customers.
"Generally, the response from kids who eat in the cafeteria is to say: 'I want to take this course!'"
Chad also points out Culinary Arts helps students with special needs get a first job in the fast food industry because of what they learn.
And every September,Chad sees many students who have previously taken Culinary Arts return again.
"A lot take it again because they like it so much – it's hand on practical – there always something tangible and there's always more to learn," he said.
Chef Chad is part of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Local 963 who proudly represents school custodians, building engineers, supervision aides and cafeteria workers since 1945.IUOE staff plays an integral part of the public-school system, they are the support system that keeps the schools running seamlessly so our students are able to be in a quality learning environment. This is #OurVSB.