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November 8, 2017 11:21 AM

Conestoga graduate attends French culinary institute

Thanks to an exclusive agreement Conestoga has signed with the Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, Conestoga culinary graduate Taylor Martin recently spent a 14-week term in France to refine her culinary skills and study French gastronomy.

Conestoga College Taylor Martin at Bocuse Institut - 2107.JPG
Culinary Management graduate Taylor Martin was the first Conestoga exchange student to attend the prestigious Institut Paul Bocuse in France.

Martin was Conestoga’s first exchange student to attend the prestigious academic institute in Lyon. As a member of the Worldwide Alliance, a global education network for the culinary arts and hospitality trades, Conestoga students now have access to the Institut’s culinary immersion experiences.

The program was delivered between May and August to nearly 50 students from 12 members of the Alliance and included practical lessons in cookery, pastry and bread making techniques, restaurant service, and theory focused on French gastronomic history. Students also had the opportunity to share and learn about each other’s unique culinary cultures.

“I can take this experience, move forward and pay food the proper respect it deserves,” said Martin. “I have a wider perspective now, and I think that means my standards for what I do in the kitchen are even higher.”

What attracted Martin to the Bocuse term, in part, was the opportunity to travel and learn about a different part of the world - through the lens of food and cooking. “In Canada, we have a mix of cultures from around the world, but I also wanted to see European culture first hand,” said Martin. “The approach to food is different.”

Class schedules differed each week for both the theory and practical training and Martin said they were similar to those she took at Conestoga, however they explored different ingredients and techniques for meat, fish and vegetables, and included instruction about dishes from the medieval era. One week was largely dedicated to wines and vinology and included a field trip to the vineyards of Burgundy - an experience she described as “absolutely beautiful.”

Students also completed service at the campus restaurant in Ecully, and at the Institut Paul Bocuse restaurant in downtown Lyon near Place Bellecour, one of Europe’s largest public squares and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

“Go if you know that you are dedicated,” stressed Martin who is now interested in completing her Red Seal. “If you’re not, it will show in your work and you won’t get the full experience out of it. Go with an open mind. And sharp knives.”

Founded in 2004, the Institut's Worldwide Alliance connects institutions that share educational values and the common goal of promoting and developing the professions of culinary arts and hotel and restaurant management. Its 17 member institutions represent the world’s top hospitality management and culinary arts schools: Conestoga is the only Canadian member.

Conestoga’s membership in the Alliance also provides opportunities for Conestoga faculty to participate in exchanges. Earlier this year, Keith Müller, Conestoga’s chair of Hospitality and Culinary Arts, was invited to present a workshop on Canadian wines at the Institut where students in the Wine and Beverage Management Master’s degree program tasted and evaluated a selection of diverse Canadian wines.

Conestoga’s School of Business and Hospitality provides a broad range of culinary and hospitality programs to serve the workforce needs of the growing hospitality industry. As part of their learning experience, students operate Bloom, a full-service, licensed dining room that was named one of Canada’s best neighbourhood restaurants in 2017. 

An expanded Culinary & Hospitality Institute currently in development at Conestoga’s Waterloo campus will foster innovation and entrepreneurship for the region’s burgeoning tourism sector. Scheduled to open in 2018, it will provide a number of key benefits for students and the community, including increased capacity for the delivery of education and training, new programs based on local food heritage and culture, and applied research and professional development to support local industry.

For more information, visit Transforming Together.

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