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Cooking up a future: Culinary program teaches cooking and more to Hopedale students

  • Hopedale students proudly display their culinary course completion certificates which were presented by Chef Charles Missick, right, proprietor and executive chef of Simply Better Gourmet Institute. PHOTOS: ROYAL BANK OF CANADA

  • Chef Perry Sweeting, an instructor at Simply Better Gourmet Institute, teaches the Hopedale students how to prepare chicken.

  • Hopedale students make apple pies from scratch.


Published: Jul 03, 2013

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Students at Hopedale Centre were surprised with the introduction of a new culinary course to their curriculum’s menu during the past school year. The aim of the culinary program was to teach nutrition, cooking skills and healthy eating to students. The program’s objectives included assisting the students with their school-to-work transition and the general enhancement of their quality of life.

The culinary program was facilitated by Chef Charles Missick, proprietor and executive chef of Simply Better Gourmet Institute and his team.

Once a week, seven Hopedale seniors were transported to the Simply Better Gourmet Institute where they engaged in the roasting, filleting and braising a variety of gourmet foods. During the 12-week course students also learnt about personal hygiene, appearance and knife skills. Food prepared included conch chowder, pastries, peas n’ rice and roast beef.

The intense course gave the participants the opportunity to experience everyday situations such as menu planning, shopping for ingredients and choices necessary for healthy eating. Each week the students awakened their culinary senses through handling the different food textures, mixing the various ingredients, tasting, and in some cases introducing new foods to their palates.

Chef Perry Sweeting, an instructor at Simply Better Gourmet Institute, taught the Hopedale students for the duration of the course, and expressed pride in the students’ progress — from peeling potatoes to cooking a full-course meal.

“As their teacher, I was truly inspired by these young persons. The experience has been equally rewarding for me and the students,” said Sweeting.

Funding for the program was provided by RBC Royal Bank.

“RBC is proud to support such an exceptional resource in the community as Hopedale Centre,” said Jan Knowles, RBC manager, public relations and communications. “Inclusion of different backgrounds, abilities and viewpoints leads to the blending of unique strengths and perspectives resulting in the enrichment of the wider community.”

Arlene Davis, director of Hopedale Centre, said her students benefitted greatly from the program and thanked RBC.

“In addition to cooking skills, the students participating in the program exhibited growth in the areas of self-discipline, confidence and creative development. Cooking just happened to be another avenue for the exposure of Hopedale students to learn experiences and the expansion of their social and life skills,” she said.

Chef Missick recently presented the students with their culinary course completion certificates during a ceremony at Hopedale Centre. For the ceremony each student donned their chef’s hat and cooking apron. As each student received their certificate one could sense immense pride in their achievement.

The Hopedale Centre is a private, non-profit organization. Founded in 1973, Hopedale Centre has remained a constant support for, and champion of young persons with special needs. Over the years more than 100 students have passed through its doors. At Hopedale a dedicated staff of six provides psychoeducational services to 30 students with a range of abilities.

Hopedale motto, “Learn, live, labour, leisure” is infused throughout its curriculum and teaching methods. Hopedale Centre provides community based instruction teaching students life skills such as general hygiene, understanding money and daily domestic skills. Community-Based Instruction (CBI) is a critical component of the school’s program for its students, primarily because, as adults, the community is where they will need to use the skills they acquire during their school years. It is this commitment to assist every Hopedale student to transition to life in the 21st century that prompted the establishment of the culinary program.

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