3 Students Sitting and Laughing

Kaya Peters

"I did my co-op at Mission Hill Winery in the Okanagan. It was absolutely incredible; I learned a ton."

PROGRAM: Culinary Arts
CURRENTLY: Cook at the Delta Grand Okanagan Resort and Conference Centre

What was your first co-op and how has it impacted your career?

I did my co-op at Mission Hill Winery in the Okanagan. It was absolutely incredible; I learned a ton. Along with the other interns, I got to rotate through production, Pastries, and finally Garde Manger in the finishing kitchen, where we cooked and plated for the fine dining terrace restaurant. The talented kitchen team, under Executive Chef Chris Stewart, and Terrace Chef Patrick Gayler, were all helpful, welcoming, and worked together to create a wonderful experience to any guests who came to experience Mission Hill. I really feel my experience at Mission Hill further sparked and confirmed my passion for the culinary industry, as well as taught me how to relate the skills learned at school to a busy restaurant setting. I learned more about the importance of organization and time management, as well as made many connections in the culinary industry that I feel will help me further my career down the road. 

What is your greatest success in your career?

So far, I would say placing Silver at Skills Canada Nationals is my greatest accomplishment. It would have been even better had I placed Gold, but it was my first competition, so maybe I'll get another shot at it someday. 

What did you enjoy most about the Culinary Arts Program at Vancouver Island University?

I enjoyed the diversity of the different sections you rotate through within the one year program, as well as being able to work in such an industrial and well-equipped kitchen. Going to school at VIU you are lucky enough to have access to the combined knowledge of all the talented and experienced chefs, who are always willing to give advice and answer questions. 

Who has been the strongest Chef mentor for you?

I feel that all the chefs at VIU have something important to offer; they all come from different backgrounds with different experiences, and that's the beauty of it. I have learned a great deal from each and every one of them. I have probably spent the most time learning from Chef Joerg Gabler however, as he is the competition Chef, and I had the opportunity to practice for and compete in a Skills Canada competition in the Spring of 2015. All the practice and hard work paid off when I won Gold at Provincials in Abbotsford and flew to Saskatoon with Chef Gabler to compete at Nationals, where I took home a silver medal for VIU in Post-Secondary Cooking. I had input and advice from all the chefs throughout my practice sessions with my dishes for the competition, but would like to thank Chef Gabler especially for all the time, effort, and patience he put into getting me ready for competition. 

Advice to future students?

To future students; the culinary industry isn't easy. It's tough. But so are you; you can do anything you set your mind to. And it sure is rewarding. It helps you learn organizational skills, lets you express your creative nature and builds work ethic. So if you're passionate about food. don't mind hard work, and want to have fun, culinary is the right industry for you. Just remember to keep your workspace free of clutter, show up, do your best, immerse yourself in food related reading material, go and experience different food, try new things. You'll love it.