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The team at Earls Robson is so impressed with their Sous Chef and VCC alumnus Matt Blandy, they did a special online Q&A to learn more about his path to becoming a professional chef and making his mark at the beloved Vancouver restaurant chain.
What do you love about being a chef?
Food. I love eating food and most of all I love creating food for other people. The greatest satisfaction in this job is seeing another person enjoy a meal you have prepared.
Why did you decide to complete your Red Seal certification?
My knowledge of the Culinary Arts was limited before joining Earls, which is where I have learnt most of what I now know. When the opportunity arose to challenge the Red Seal I grabbed it with both hands. I love learning something new especially when it is about food. The teachers at Vancouver Community College (VCC) did an excellent job of extending my knowledge of Traditional French Cuisine as well as more modern styles of cooking.
The truth is I thought once I had my Red Seal I would be a professional chef and that I would feel like "I had made it". Once I did qualify I realized I am a professional chef but there is so much more to learn and this is only the beginning - there is an exciting future ahead.
How do you balance the requirements for the program along with your full-time job at Earls?
This was a challenging time for me as I love to stay physically fit with running or playing sports but once my program started I realized that this had to come first and I put other activities to one side. At the time there were activities/social events I missed out on, but I knew that giving 100 per cent to studying would make it worth it in the end and it was.
What are your goals for your career in the next year? In the next three years?
Not long after receiving my Red Seal, I felt like I wanted to continue learning. I missed it as I had an awesome time in our group and with the chef. I signed up for an online cooking course which was more specific to a certain type of cooking to broaden my knowledge even more.
My goal is and always will be to continue to learn, develop and grow. Within the year, I would love to work alongside the Culinary Development Team at the Test Kitchen. I have met them before and helped them a few times, but I want to learn from them more and who knows, they may learn something from me too. Within three years I will be part of the Culinary Development Team, developing new menu items with a Matt Blandy influence!
What is challenging about completing your Red Seal certification?
The actual practical exam is a challenge, but if you have practiced and stay calm during the exam you will be able to handle it. The written exam required a lot of studying outside of the college, this was the most challenging part.
What advice would you give another chef that is thinking about completing their Red Seal?
As soon as you start the course, start studying for your written exam, a few hours a week over the course of the program will really help you when you come to take the exam. There is so much information that you need the time to absorb what you are learning.
The only other piece of advice I would give is to enjoy yourself, take what you learn and share it with your team in your restaurant, remember you will be studying alongside some of the best up-and-coming chefs in the company and you are the future of Earls.
Great advice Matt! Earls believes in developing chefs. This is why Earls will pay for chefs to complete their Red Seal certification. This includes tuition, books and knives for coursework. Learn more at earlswantsyou.com.
Re-published with permission.