Written By Guest Writer Chefs / Folks May 26, 2015 Vancouver Island University Culinary Arts Program at Providence Farm SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter PinterestChef/Instructor Allan AikmanThe semester for the Vancouver Island University (VIU) Cowichan Campus Culinary Arts Program is in full swing at Providence Farm in Duncan. Spring has arrived and the farm is alive with the gardens, livestock, and students. I joined the VIU students with instructor and chef Allan Aikman on a sunny afternoon in April to see what life is like for the students enrolled in this unique program.The program launched in February 2013 in conjunction with Providence Farm and it is the first Farm to Table professional culinary training program in North America. The students begin as Level 1 Cook Apprentices, completing a work practicum and then onto Level 2 Technical Training. From there they can go on at the Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island at VIU Nanaimo for a second year diploma in culinary training.It’s a casual and unconventional classroom gathering around the lower courtyard for the students to start their field day, which happens twice a week. Under the direction of Field Manager Abe Wahi who tasks the students depending on whatever area of the farm needs cultivating. When I visited, it was the rhubarb patch that needed attention—weeding and mulching. Walking out to the garden, there was a quick detour to check out the six week old calves that had arrived on the farm that day. (Allan explains to me that these cows will eventually become a part of their cooking classes and training…) This program is incredibly unique because of the hands-on experience offered for the culinary training.Abe Wahi Field Manager and studentsA farm is a lifeline to sustainability and as more chefs and restaurants go back to the basics for sourcing food, more and more the public seem to be embracing it. And in my opinion the Cowichan Valley is the perfect place to learn these lessons with Providence Farm setting a fine example. After putting in a few hours in the field, the students return to the kitchen to cook for each other with an obvious air of comradery and accomplishment. They get dressed in their chef jackets and pose for a few pictures before I leave them to enjoy dinner together.Students left to right.Front Row,Chef/Instructor Allan AikmanMark Shields, Chloe Dalsin, Kassandra Vanier, Montana Remple, Parker Schwinghammer,Middle.Thomas Brown, Madeline Routley,Back Row.Luke Best, Adam Morris, Christine Matte, Alex Moisan, Kyle BrownIf you haven’t been to Providence Farm, I highly recommend it. The grounds are open to the public and there is so much to explore. They have a therapeutic animal program, gardening beds to rent, a woodshop, a weaving program, a general store, and an extensive nursery.A student preps for dinnerWith 400 acres of farmland, the students are exposed to the planting, growing, and harvesting of the ingredients that they will cook with for service in the onsite restaurant, The Farm Table. It just makes sense that the program lends itself to both aspects of the working farm and the experience of running a kitchen for a dining room of patrons.The restaurant operates Wednesday through Friday 5:30-9:00pm. Reservations can be made by calling the farm at 250-597-0599. —Text and Photography by By Sherri Martin(top photo: Farm Intern Andrew Gerbrandt) SHARE VIA: Facebook Twitter Pinterest Written By: Guest Writer We get many people writing guest articles for us, as well as past contributors. This is the Guest ... Read More You may also like Causes / Chefs / Events / Victoria August 30, 2019 Mary Ploegsma—The Tattoo Series I It was an unforgettable afternoon. Mary Ploegsma served us David’s Tea’s vanilla chai with sweet local strawberries and chocolate biscuits. The ... 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