3 Students Sitting and Laughing

Success Stories

Cameron Ballendine

Executive Chef at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

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

The instructors, at the time there was such a diverse group of talent with various strengths and skills. They were firm yet had just the right patience in dealing with young cooks.

What cooking experiences have you had over the years that are significant and helped shape your career?

Working abroad, having worked in Dubai, Egypt, China and France has really enabled me to have a cooking repertoire that most chefs in Canada do not get exposed too. Learning the culture and cuisines of these different countries is very rewarding both personally and professionally.

Where are you working now and what do you do?

Currently I am the Executive Chef of Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, and am responsible for a culinary brigade of 50 and a stewarding team of 30. My job entails forecasting, budgeting, labor management, recruitment, menu development and of course cooking for groups up to 1400 guests .

Who has been the strongest Chef mentors for you?

Besides Chef Michael Pelletier, my strongest mentor would be Robert Allen Sulatycky, who I worked with for a number of years in different places, my cooking and plating styles were on a large part formed with him and his passion and dedication as well as success have been a driving force for my career.

What is your greatest success in your career?

Having cooks who have been under your leadership and worked in your kitchen make it to the big chair and get their first Executive Chef and reach out and say how the learning and development their received at that time is the best experience of their career, that's what it's all about. The kids finally making it after all the long days and missed family events etc.

Advice to future students?

Realize that cooking school does not mean you're a chef, it's the years of working with many different cooks and chefs in deserving kitchens and excelling in them all that makes you a chef. Be humble and take the opportunity to travel and work abroad, experience food from street carts to 5 star hotels and restaurants. Learn from each meal experience, dissect it, challenge it, take something away from each experience and make it better. Understand that cooking is not a job it's a lifestyle, it's demanding, stressful, tiring and one of best ways to see the world.