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Something’s cooking at Boreal

Something’s cooking at Collège Boréal. The new one-year culinary arts and hospitality program starts this September.

Chef Simon Le Hénaff, manager of Arts culinaires – cuisinier, is a graduate of l’Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec in Montréal, one of the most important training institutions in North America.

Le Hénaff brings more than 30 years of hospitality experience to the classroom. Most recently he was a part-time culinary instructor at Georgian College in Barrie, and banquet chef at the Best Western Mariposa Inn and Conference Centre in Orillia.

Le Hénaff’s enthusiasm bubbles over as he talks about the program and the new Institute of Culinary Arts and Hospitality.

The course will prepare bilingual students for employment in restaurants, resorts, hotels and institutions.

“Being a chef offers you the world,” Le Hénaff says.

Student chefs will train in a state-of-the-art learning environment outfitted with a professional kitchen. There will also be a restaurant where students can get real-life experience.

Success in the hospitality industry takes teamwork and based on one’s ability to get along with others.

“It’s like a marriage,” Le Hénaff says. “There has to be communication.”

Courses include butchery, baking and pastry arts, and preparing, cooking and presenting various meals. Students will learn how to supervise kitchen staff, create menus, evaluate portion sizes, budget and order supplies.

Culinary arts has received a lot of interest from prospective students since it was announced last fall.

“We do have enrolment,” Le Hénaff says. Students can apply for one of 10 bursaries valued at $1,000 each.

The term “chef de cuisine” originated in France and chefs were hired throughout Europe to work for royalty and the wealthy.

According to Le Hénaff, all professional culinary training and terminology is based on this French background.

“French styles of cooking, preparing dishes and techniques…this is where we all start.”

Le Hénaff says the new course, rooted in the French classics, encompasses a twist to incorporate the Franco-Ontarian culture as well as to pay homage to aboriginal cuisine as well.

“First Nations taught us how to do things…Cured meats, smoked meats, they’re very indicative of that era and time…when we first settled here,” he says.

In November 2010, Boréal opened the Centre Louis Riel for First Nations and Métis students.

“I was given the opportunity to partake in (the opening),” says Le Hénaff. “I created an elk meat conversion of “porcupine balls,” (meatballs in rice, tomato juice and onions) and I prepared salmon two different ways in respect to their culture.”

Boréal students will have a chance to take a one-week winery course at Niagara College before going on their work term. The college is in Niagara-on-the Lake: part of the world renowned Niagara Peninsula wine region.

This program teaches students how to choose wines for cooking, and how to partner dishes with wine to complement the ingredients. The college is home to Canada’s only licensed teaching winery.

The French college also has an articulation agreement with Niagara. Graduates of Boréal’s chef program can enter directly into Niagara’s second-year culinary management program.

Students will benefit greatly because these programs provide key segments necessary in creating a well-rounded learning experience, says Le Hénaff.

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