VIU's Cultural Food Event

VIU to co-host Cultural Food Event gala fundraiser

Press release

Cultural Food Event raises money to supplement field trips, extra equipment and other activities for Culinary Arts students

From smoked salmon and bannock, to pork dumplings, tamales and beer-glazed weisswurst sausage, a range of delectable dishes and international flavours will be served up by Vancouver Island University (VIU) students at a special fundraising event on Thursday, February 9.

In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, students from VIU’s Culinary Institute of Vancouver Island and the Hospitality Management Programs are teaming up to co-host a one-of-a-kind, international friends and family Cultural Food Event. The seven-course meal, served in the main cafeteria (Building 300), includes foods from around the world, as well as local First Nations dishes.

For Culinary Arts students, it’s a chance to put their skills to work at a real event, try out new recipes and show off what they’re learning, says Aaron Wende, who’s in the Culinary Professional Cook Level 1 program.

“It’s always fun to try something new and experiment with different flavours,” he says. “Plus I love sharing my skills and giving back. People in this program are from all over the world and we all submitted our favourite recipes from our different backgrounds to be considered for the event. From there, they chose dishes that would allow us to show off the depth and breadth of our training here.”

All proceeds of the family-oriented international cuisine night go towards supporting students in skills competitions, as well as field trips and equipment. Wende, who worked in the industry for 10 years before he decided to get formal training, says the program makes food for the cafeteria at cost, so events like this allow them to include extras for students like field trips and competing in events like Skills Canada competitions.

“The program is recognized as one of the top 10 Culinary Arts programs in North America partly because of the hands-on experiences we get, plus we are always going on trips that expand our knowledge,” he says. “This type of hands-on training is so important, and it’s great that we are given the freedom to experiment and the chance to cook a wide range of different foods.”

The Friends & Family fundraiser evening also features a performance by classical violinist and VIU student Ray Chin, a tap dancing performance by Culinary Arts student Jamie Johnstone and a cake auction with Valentine’s Day-themed cakes. The dinner will be served on plates donated to the Culinary Arts program by Cactus Club Café in Nanaimo.

Tickets are $45 each for adults, $15 for children aged 6-12, free for children 5 years and under, or $330 for a table of eight adults. Doors open at 5:30 pm with dinner starting at 6 pm, and beer and wine will be available for purchase from the bar.

“It’s going to be a fantastic event with amazing food – and it gives our students a chance to get some hands-on experiences cooking and serving a large event,” says Debbie Shore, Chair of VIU’s Culinary Arts program. “It’s not a black tie event, it’s open to anyone interested in tasting foods from around the world. The tables will be set to encourage groups mingling with other groups and sharing in their traditions.”

For more information or to buy tickets, call 250.740.6289 or 250.740.6338, or email [email protected].

There are still spots open for the February 14 intake into the Culinary Arts program. Students in high-demand programs like Culinary Arts may be eligible for a number of different tax credits and government grants to help with costs. For example, the BC Access Grant provides eligible students with grant funding for tools (up to $500); relocation to attend an in-demand program (up to $4,000); a grant to replace a portion of a BC student loan; or other unmet needs. Those who continue on to apprenticeships can access the Training Tax Credit for Apprentices.

To learn more about VIU’s Culinary Arts program, check out this video or visit the Culinary Arts homepage.

Photo: VIU Culinary Arts students Aaron Wende, left, and Mike Lu prepare dumplings from scratch for a recent event on campus. They are looking forward to showing off their skills at the program’s Cultural Food Event on February 9.