Amanda St. Pierre

For career prep, proof is in the pudding

Spectrum kitchen manager shows value of trades training in school

Amanda St. Pierre rushes in to the cafeteria kitchen toward the end of a busy lunch hour. She hurriedly grabs a bowl and ladles in a cup of the soup du jour – chicken tortilla with a gob of sour cream and crumbled tortilla chips on top.

“Hot. Coming through,” she warns as she weaves her way past the young students working in the cafeteria and out to the till.

St. Pierre, Spectrum Community School’s cafeteria manager, could easily be mistaken for one of them – she looks more like a high school student than a lunch lady.

In fact, the kitchen she manages is more an upscale restaurant than a school lunch joint.

With menu items like espresso-marinated pork tenderloin and a rack of lamb, it’s clear there’s something unique going on in Spectrum’s cafeteria.

It all stems from the school’s culinary arts program, a one-year program that prepares students to  work as professional chefs by having them prepare all meals served in the cafeteria, while learning the ins and outs of managing a kitchen.

At 18 years old, St. Pierre is a recent grad of that program – June 2012, in fact. After seeing her excel in culinary arts, Spectrum hired her in September 2012 to run the kitchen under chef (and teacher) Lauri Humeniuk.

“It’s funny, I remember one of the kids asked, ‘Why are you back? Didn’t you graduate?’ ‘Yeah, but I work here now,’” St. Pierre says. “It’s very weird to think I went from being a student to being (a staff member) here.”

Spectrum principal Rob House says St. Pierre’s hiring wasn’t nepotism – she is simply the best person for the job. “Amanda is the evidence that (career preparation) works,” he says. “She knows the cafeteria kitchen.”

The school also has career prep programs in law, outdoor recreation and for would-be electricians.

“We want to make schooling as relevant as possible. The math, science, socials, English – those don’t go away, they’re important, but you want to connect their education to the real world. What better way than career prep, where you can begin your career at school?” House says. “If you find your passion early enough in life, you could be well on the way (to your career) by the time you finish high school.”

St. Pierre found her passion early, even switching high schools in Grade 10 to participate in Spectrum’s culinary arts.

She laughs now when she thinks back to her childhood and her earliest cooking memory. At age 8 or 9 she surprised her mom by baking her a berry pie – from scratch.

“I didn’t know how to make a pie so I put all the berries in the blender and blended them all up. It tasted good, but it was so runny and so terrible – but my mom loved it,” she says.

While her job at Spectrum is only temporary, as she’s filling in during a maternity leave, St. Pierre says she’s enjoying working at her old high school, and getting to watch the up-and-coming chefs discover their flair for cooking.

“I love the art of cooking; the culinary arts – that’s totally what it is. I’m a very artistic person and I love being able to express it through my cooking, through my food,” she says. “This program is amazing in so many ways. You learn so much about yourself and what you’re capable of. … I’m so passionate about it. I love seeing other people that are just as excited about food as I am.”

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Garden-sharing map connects Victoria landowners and gardeners

U-Map created by Young Agrarians after COVID-19 created uptick in garden matching requests

Saanich wins award for climate plan cut from 2020 budget

‘It’s truly an exceptional plan,’ says councillor disappointed with lack of funding

Oak Bay Grade 8 students end time at Monterey with drive-through goodbye

School holds socially-distanced completion ceremony

CRD warns of toxic algae bloom at Thetis Lake Regional Park

Visitors advised to avoid swimming in lake, keep pets out of water

Saanich police, pound respond to possible cougar sighting

Cougar possibly seen in area of 4500-block of Chatterton Way

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read