NSCC: Educating the modern chef
Hungry to learn about Nova Scotia’s culinary scene
The art of cooking is becoming just that: art. It’s about so much more than a meal—people are beginning to look for the overall uniqueness of an experience more than simply just sustenance. Food-lovers have grown adventurous to try new things, and as a restaurant you have to be armed to provide the best and the boldest dining experience.
Chef Mark Gray is up for the challenge, and he’s ready to help put Nova Scotia on the culinary map. “In Nova Scotia, we don’t get the press and praise for our food like I believe we should. It has come a long way in the past several years, but it’s my ultimate goal for us to get recognized not only nationally, but internationally,” he says.
The Culinary Arts Program at Nova Scotia Community College—NSCC—came highly recommended to Mark by others in the culinary world. The teachers are highly acclaimed, as they’ve been through the industry in Nova Scotia and throughout Canada, and they’ve set him up with the fundamentals and building blocks necessary in order for him to build his own cuisine.
“The first year of the program was focused on basic techniques and skills development and by second year we were designing our own menus, learning how to run our own kitchen, and working on more advanced food preparation and technique,” says Mark.
He thought he knew a lot, but quickly figured out there was so much knowledge left to acquire. Though Mark has been in the culinary industry for 16 years, he knows that it’s an ever-changing field, and that there is constantly something new to learn.
“These are the top cooks in our province, I know that from experience and that’s why my team is made up of Culinary Arts graduates from NSCC. These graduates are like sponges: eager to soak up every bit of knowledge possible,” says Mark.
That’s how you make it in the industry. Mark says, “Cooks need to put in the time. Cooks put in a lot of hours with not a lot of compensation, but when you have someone walk up to you and say how incredible the meal is—that’s what makes it worth it.”