Gourmet

Published on July 15th, 2014 | by Susanne Mikler

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Sam I Am

Meet Samantha B Child: graphic designer, payroll and accounting specialist and now culinary artist. Sam’s journey started at a young age in rural Orangeville, inspired by her father, a graphic designer and amateur chef. Many hours spent in the kitchen enjoying father/daughter bonding time trying out recipes that dad learned at cooking classes resulted in Sam’s adventurous nature in the kitchen. Testing her culinary prowess and, in many cases, failing miserably: like the sweet and spicy sauce with maple and a glut of unmentionable spices that was, essentially inedible…

In high school, without the option of a shop class, Sam joined the culinary programs and found that she liked them enough to start her first part time job in a kitchen. However, it was not a great experience. In fact, it was devastating. A boss who was the epitome of Hell’s Kitchenesque drove Sam out of the industry. But not for good.

With culinary dreams temporarily crushed, Sam followed her father’s lead and took a graphic design program and completed the program with the hopes of starting her own business. With student loans to repay, Sam worked a full time job in addition to starting a fledgling design business. But like many new ventures, fell prey to the reality of supply and demand and punishing overheads. Her business closed and student loans in her past, Sam thought a new career path would be a fresh start.

So off to business school she went and studied the Accounting and Payroll Specialist program. But her culinary passion continued to nag at her. And the void would eventually lead her to take the program at Liaison College in Barrie. With her mother’s words of wisdom (if you don’t choose a career in culinary you can always rely on the cooking skills for life), Sam pushed her traumatic early experience in the commercial kitchen behind her and became a student again. This time in the field of dreams: the kitchen.

Sam completed her first level of classes without issue. Her creative juices were flowing and she quickly started to master the knife skills that would serve her in the future. In the second level of the program, Sam was required to create a menu that would be executed for the public as the “Chef of the Day” where the objective is for students to practice the concept of a la carte service. With her graphic design expertise coming in to play, Sam crafted a clever and unique menu card for the tables in her dining room. Her classmates became her brigade (kitchen team) and her menu was ready for preparation and serving to live customers. No pressure.

Her parents attended. Of course, it is often expected that parents will be proud no matter what, but Sam created a wonderful three course meal including appetizer, entrée and dessert that left her customers raving (including Lorraine Leslie from Women with Vision who happened to be a lunch guest that day). Mission accomplished.

But one of the hardest parts of any study program is finishing – now you have to apply your skills in the real world and that can be daunting. Sam wondered where her newly acquired professional skills would take her. But when Liaison College was contacted by Christie’s Mills Executive Chef, Ericka (also a Liaison College graduate) who was looking for kitchen staff, it was Sam who was recommended for the position. Christie’s Mills is a thriving, well known resort north of Barrie where guests are treated to beautiful scenery, relaxing atmosphere and delicious repasts. It is common for Chefs to ask for a working interview where candidates can show their muster in action – it is also called a “stage”. This was the case for Sam and she was asked to prepare a dish for Erika. No problem. Hired. Starting now.

And so Sam began her culinary career as the breakfast cook and worked into the team seamlessly. Now, only a few weeks into the position, she is facing holiday buffets, big events, crowded family brunches and the promise of no slow down over the hectic summer months. The fast pace of the kitchen can take its toll and is often too much for the faint of heart to handle. But Sam will not be deterred. She is determined to succeed. Her confidence is soaring.

When asked what advice she would give to an aspiring culinarian, Sam simply says: “don’t let anything stop you – just do it”.

Sage advice from someone who has overcome barriers and fears to find her passion; we can look forward to great things from Sam if she puts her mind to it. Because Sam She Is.

Susanne Mikler

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About the Author

Susanne Mikler

a cook with a passion for food, was nominated for 2006 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year.Her special interests include Cuisine Canada Culinary, Canadian Chef Educators Association, and Women in Food Industry Management. Susanne is the current president of WFIM: Women in Food Management.She is committed to improving the culinary arts in Canada and passionate about her role mentoring chefs and chefs-in-training.



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