In the kitchen, Vancouver Community College (VCC) Culinary Arts Diploma alumnus Vanvisa Sataglamp embraces every opportunity she can. In her life and work, she’s already moved overseas, learned a new language, and cooked in some of Vancouver’s top establishments – but it’s clear her culinary rise has only just begun.
Growing up in Thailand, Vanvisa was always fascinated by food and cooking. Yet while her mother worked as a baker, formal culinary arts training was uncommon and expensive, and prepared food typically came from street stalls, not restaurants.
Following a more traditional path, Vanvisa completed a bachelor’s degree in business accounting and began working in offices. Within a few years, however, Vanvisa was drawn back to her dream of cooking as well as travelling overseas. In 2016, she came to Vancouver for the first time with a temporary visa to work at a local Thai restaurant.
Vanvisa says she chose Vancouver for its mild winter weather. “I knew I was going to have culture shock,” she says. “I didn’t want to have weather shock too!”
The weather must have suited her fine, because Vanvisa quickly returned to study culinary arts as an international student at VCC, a school that came highly recommended in the local restaurant industry.
As a woman in her mid-thirties, Vanvisa says she appreciated Canada’s openness to career re-training as well as the wide diversity of students at VCC. “Some classmates were older and some younger than me. They didn’t discriminate for age or gender. Everyone was the same in the kitchen,” she says.
When asked what she likes most about the culinary industry, Vanvisa’s answer may surprise some – or not, considering her business school background. “I love the time management,” she says. “Time is a limited resource in the kitchen. Each task takes a different amount of time and you can’t replay it.”
It’s been an exciting year for Vanvisa. In Spring 2020, she received VCC’s Mueller Family Culinary Arts Award recognizing her hard work, passion for food, and positivity in the face of challenges. In the summer, she appeared as the face of VCC’s Savour the VCC Effect advertising campaign. In November 2021, Vanvisa graduated with her Culinary Arts Diploma, was named valedictorian, and delivered a heartfelt speech to the entire graduating class in a language she’d only recently learned.
“I tell international students you don’t need to be a native speaker,” she says. “Don’t be afraid; you can adapt!”
After graduating, Vanvisa had no trouble finding work in B.C.’s rapidly recovering hospitality industry, and she is grateful to VCC instructor Hamid Salimian for his recommendation which landed her a job at one of Vancouver’s top hotels, the Fairmont Pacific Rim.
As she continues to expand her culinary experience, Vanvisa says she’s continually impressed to find that VCC is highly recognized, and our culinary grads are everywhere. “Most of my coworkers, even my sous chef graduated from VCC,” she says. “It’s like a big family. It makes me so proud.”
In a recent interview with Vanvisa about her study journey at VCC and after graduation, Vanvisa shared her thoughts about her experience at VCC.
Congratulations on your graduation from VCC, how do you feel about graduating from VCC as a Valedictorian?
I feel extremely honoured to be able to address the entire convocation by sharing my experiences and some words of encouragement for the graduation class. I did not imagine that an international student would be able to do so, and I really appreciate the opportunity provided to me.
How was your study? Did you have a good time?
I love my studies at VCC! Even though I had to work in the evening and went to classes early the next morning, I still wanted to go to class every day to learn new skills. I also enjoyed learning together with my classmates – Canadian students and international students from different parts of the world. It’s great to learn from different cultures.
What do you like the most about the Culinary Arts Diploma program at VCC?
I’m currently working at the Fairmont Hotel, and the state-of-the-art facilities remind me so much of VCC. I was really prepared well to be able to work right after graduation. I love the on-campus training facilities, where we were learning and practicing with real-world working experiences.
You've landed 3 full-time jobs. Was it hard to find a job?
It was not hard at all. My lovely instructors also recommended me to jobs. Because of my part-time and volunteer experiences, as well as instructors’ recommendations, I was able to receive job offers very easily.
Would you recommend VCC to future students? Why?
I strongly recommend VCC to international students. It is not hard to study at VCC and become successful, as long as you are committed and put in the work. Studying at VCC is the best choice I’ve made, and I hope other international students will also do the same!
How was your VCC experience?
At the beginning of my program, I was worried that two years of school would pass slowly. But I enjoyed my time at VCC so much, and I can’t believe it’s already over. Many lovely memories will stay with me forever. Being inspired by the instructors that encourage me to be Red Seal Chef, and the opportunity to volunteer at prestigious events like the Bacchanalia Wine Festival Gala Dinner at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. This wonderful opportunity is a great reference for me when I apply for a job. Moreover, I have connected with so many VCC graduates from VCC after I graduated from VCC. Those are made me feel VCC is my second home. The knowledge, skills, and experiences I gained from VCC have made me feel ready to achieve my dream. This experience has motivated me to continue to advance in this incredible industry. VCC is a well-recognized college in the Culinary industry. Thank you to all of my instructors, a donation from the Mueller Family, and the steadfast support from the Culinary Arts department, and VCC as a whole. Choosing to study at VCC is the best choice for me ever and I am so proud to be a part of the VCC Community.
Feed your passion. Apply now to Culinary Arts Diploma at VCC.