Culinary Capers

June 2015 | Newsletter

In this edition of Culinary Capers...


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(Above - 2015 Graduate Elissa McKinnon with family)

Photos by Terry Manzo

On Sunday, May 31st, the Stratford Chefs School proudly graduated 33 talented new chefs, who, through hard work and perseverance, are now ready to put their training into practice and become valued members of the Canadian culinary community. An intimate graduation ceremony in front of friends and family was held in the Paul D. Fleck Marquee at the Festival Theatre in Stratford.

Joining the ranks of the Stratford Chefs School's over 700 distinguished alumni are:

Dean Banasco, Sam Bavaro, Greg Belanger, Tara Blasman, Jerika Burge, Madison DePace, Lucas De Santis, Scott Douglas, Michael Fry, Harrison Goad, Jonathan Goad, Thea Greisman, Lisa Guenther, Richard Gunn, Spencer Hackbart, Michelle Hundt, Mike Kale, Katie Ludwig, Quinton Martisius, Elissa McKinnon, Ashley Moore, Michael Padmore, Amanda Pearson, Andreas Pfenning, Julie Sale, Eli Silverthorne (2015 Valedictorian), Esther Tabert, Steven Vick, Dylan Vickers, Vanessa Wagar, Megan Walsh, Jesse Way, and Toban Zaryski.

"I think this is the most prepared and motivated generation of cooks we have ever had."

Celebrated author and columnist, Lucy Waverman began her key note address emphasizing how impressed she was by the dedication and hard work she saw the students put into their studies during her residency as the 2015 Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence. Although she was careful to point out some of the challenges the recent graduates will face starting in the business, she encouraged the students to define a goal for themselves and to never lose sight of it:

"Once you get passed the first couple of years, the profession will give back to you and I know that chefs give back to the business. You are among the most generous people that I know."

Lucy Waverman went on to discuss how optimistic she is about the number of female students graduating from the Stratford Chefs School, encouraging them to break through the glass ceiling that still exists in the industry:

"This used to be a man’s field but all that has changed. Women chefs like Carolyn Reid at Scaramouche, Lynn Crawford, Gabrielle Hamilton, April Bloomfield are changing the way women are perceived in the industry. They are people to look up to and to emulate. Perseverance pays."

Ms. Waverman concluded her speech offering advice on the importance of hospitality, kitchen "family" dynamics, treating everyone with respect, and always striving to improve in all that you do. Quoting famous Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio, (“Chefs are not stars they are instruments of happiness.”), Ms. Waverman encouraged the Class of 2015 to never say "no", and to always "be out there" - to engage with their customers, community and media networks. She also reminded the students of the importance of finding time for themselves.

"All of your experiences – travel, relationships, heritage and education – become part of what you are and are reflected on the plate that you create and the atmosphere you establish. Find your own identity but do it thoughtfully through travel, research and continuous cooking."

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Lucy Waverman with Level 1 student, Donna Borooah

"We stand before you today, as graduating chefs: confident without recipes, armed with technique, and supported by a theoretical framework"

- 2015 Valedictorian Eli Silverthorne
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In a frequently funny, but more often poignant speech, Class of 2015 Valedictorian, Eli Silverthorne, compared the Stratford Chefs School's program to the chronology of a dinner service.

"...Chefs School proper marks but the preparatory phase, pre-staff meal even. From here the real show begins, and the guests arrive. It is up to all of us as chefs to make it happen professionally."

Eli paid tribute to his peers, citing them as having "both influenced and impressed me", and hoping that he has the opportunity to work with members of his class in the future.

"...Drawn days and long nights were made easier by sharing the time with awesome classmates; classmates who are exceptionally determined, passionate and talented."

Offering friends and family of his classmates insight to the daily challenges conquered by his class over the past two years ("you've got to know the rules to break the rules"), Eli stressed:

"The amount that we have learned over that time is hard to quantify. The great thing about learning such an applied trade as cookery, is the way that it grows to be ever expansive the harder you push at it. As chefs, the things we learn are instantly applied, and from being applied they then become instinct; thus allowing new room for new knowledge, triggering a never-ending sequence of growth and applied development."

In closing, Eli offered his "Top 10" list of reflections on his time at the School:

1. Practice to get it right, before attempting to go faster

2. Always be asking yourself, can I do this faster (attributed to Instructor, Chef Ryan O’Donnell)

3. Chefs require a support network: suppliers, co-workers, friends and family

4. Embrace the unplanned

5. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t repeat them

6. ABC’s are important – Always Be Counting

7. If you are serious about what you do, find a mentor (thanking Lucy Waverman, the 2015 Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence for this piece of advice)

8. There is more to cooking than just cooking

9. Be nice to your dishwashers

10. You are only as good as your last plate

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SCS 2015 Graduates Ashley Moore and Lucas De Santis celebrate their achievements!
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Senior Instructor Chef Bryan Steele raises a glass with graduate Scott Douglas.
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2015 Scholarships and Graduation Awards

Awards and scholarships were handed out to deserving graduates and Level 1 students entering Level 2. Thank you to our generous award sponsors and Support a Student Chef donors. Congratulations to the winners!


Kikkoman Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement Overall

  • $2,000 - Mel Athulathmudali
  • $1,000 - Donna Borooah
  • $500 - James Toenders

T. Kent Calhoun Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement in Cookery

  • $1,000 - Donna Borooah

Garland Canada Scholarship for Outstanding Achievement in Gastronomy

  • $250 - Donna Borooah

Savour Stratford Culinary Scholarship for Involvement in Community through Culinary Tourism

  • $250 - Angie Mohr

PMA Canada | Wyborowa Vodka Scholarship (by application)

  • $750 - James Toenders

Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence Scholarship (by application)

  • $500 - James Toenders

Dr. John and Olive Pyper Memorial Scholarship for Guest Blogging (by application)

  • $100 - Mel Athulathmudali
  • $100 - Donna Borooah


Stratford Chefs School Award for Commitment to Industry & Highest Academic Achievement

  • $2,000 - Eli Silverthorne

Elizabeth Baird Award for Outstanding Achievement

  • $1,000 - Esther Tabert

City of Stratford Award for Outstanding Achievement (awarded to a student of Stratford origin)

  • $500 - Jesse Way

John Richardson Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Pastry

  • $250 - Eli Silverthorne

The Hillbrooke Group Award for Outstanding Achievement in Communications

  • $200 - Esther Tabert

Bradshaws & Kitchen Detail Award for Outstanding Achievement in Food & Wine Service

  • Gift Certificate - Sam Bavaro

The Eleanor Kane Award for Outstanding Achievement in Gastronomy

  • Product & $100 - Eli Silverthorne

The Bread Award for Outstanding Achievement in Breadmaking

  • $800 - Elissa McKinnon

The Christopher John Sinopoli Memorial Award for Outstanding Achievement in Larder

  • $250 - Sam Bavaro

The Vine Agency Award (by application)

  • Wine tour trip - Eli Silverthorne

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The Stratford Chefs School 2015 Graduation Awards and Scholarships Are Supported By:

George and Elizabeth Baird

T. Kent Calhoun Memorial Fund

The Hillbrooke Group

Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence Program

Eleanor Kane

John Richardson Memorial Fund

2014|15 Support a Student Chef Campaign


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The entire Class of 2015 on the last day of classes this past February!

Train with us!

Are you passionate about a career in the Culinary Arts? Or do you know someone who is looking for the perfect school to hone their skills?

The Stratford Chefs School is now accepting applications for Fall 2015.

What are you... waiting for?

Contact our Recruitment Officer, Bob Friesen to discuss the possibility of becoming a student this fall!

Email: or

Call: 519.271.1414

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Attention Current and Incoming Students!

Applications are due JUNE 30th for the BMO Scholarship.

Up to $2000 available to go towards your tuition!

Click the link below for application forms and more information on this and other scholarships available to incoming and returning students:

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Support a Student Chef

Graduation also signals the time when the School launches its Support a Student Chef Campaign for the coming 2015|16 school year.

Every dollar donated to this campaign is invested in scholarships and bursaries for deserving students; enabling many future chefs to continue their studies when they might otherwise have been forced to withdraw. Based on demonstrated need, scholarship funds help students cover school fees, rent and general living expenses.

Without support from people like you, it would be impossible for some of these students to realize their dream.

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Now in our fourth decade of training and preparing chefs to enter the industry, everyone at the Stratford Chefs School is humbly reminded that the great success, tradition and longevity of the School would not be possible without the support and interest of our community.

Thank you!


Ryan Donovan

Nigel Howard

Timothy J. Leonard

Dr. Dennis Nuhn


Dan Donovan

Carl Heinrich

Eleanor Kane

Shelley Windsor

John Wolfe


revel caffè


Terry Manzo


The City of Stratford

The Compudoc and Switch Wifi


Bustard Chrysler


Cave Spring Cellars

Hidden Bench

Malivoire Wine

Rosewood Estates

The Vine - Rob Groh Agency

13th Street Winery



BMO Financial Group

Metcalf Foundation

SOUS CHEF $2500+

Stratford Perth Community Foundation


David James Lester | The Three Houses

Stratford Festival






BMO Financial Group

Lynda and David Bowen

George Oleske & Carol Duncan

Hon. Paul T. Hellyer

Donna & Richard Ivey

John and Ann Lang

James and Connie MacDougall

Barbara Schubert

Lawrence C. Sweet

Bertha Thompson

Stratford Chefs School

The Stratford Chefs School is a world renowned, not-for-profit educational institution now entering its fourth decade training young Canadian chefs through a unique, industry-driven program. Stratford Chefs School is supported by Service Canada and the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities.

Charitable No. 119199958 RR0001


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