Anne Radcliffe: Dinner - It's Not Rocket Science


Field-to-Fork in Action at Durham College's Center for Food

Local food, education, and career experience all in one.

This month, I had the pleasure of being invited out east, to Oshawa, where I haven’t had to drive near for ages. Durham College has campuses in Oshawa and Whitby, and they’ve opened up an exciting program for students with their boutique culinary school, the Center for Food (CFF), about a year ago.

For students looking for something a little bit different, this rather small and intimate setting boasts a uniquely integrated series of programs. You see, the CFF isn’t just a culinary school at all—it’s also a working green-certified teaching bistro open the public, and there’s also a small retail shop inside called Pantry, where anyone can buy an amazing selection fresh and preserved goods made by the students of the CFF (I came home with venison stew, and some pickled beets and loved them).

Preserves 101: Have the Best Tomatoes All Year-Round

I had the pleasure of speaking to one of the students who prepared our food, Justin Hurley. This young man never dreamed he would end up in culinary studies when he was in high school, but he has fallen in love with the program during his previous year, and he is intending to continue in culinary management.

The icing on the cake, however, is that the CFF is also a philosophy of sustainability. Their credo is “Field to Fork,” and to prove it, we were shown some of the freshly-dug up three acres facing the large bay windows of the bistro that will eventually become a large herb garden and orchard in the spring, supplying some of the Bistro’s demand for fresh produce. There’s also another 10 acres at the Windreach Farm (a partner of the CFF), being tended to by farming students, who will supply much (if not most) of the rest of the CFF’s needs.

(Christian Pritchard, chef; Brittany Lombard, second-year Durham College (DC) Culinary Management student; Dave Hawey, DC professor and program co-ordinator; Robert Grieve, DC professor and program co-ordinator; Jamie Kennedy, chef; Ron Chatterton, chair, DC Board of Governors; Roger Anderson, chair, Region of Durham; Pat Perkins, mayor, Town of Whitby; and Don Lovisa, DC president. - Photo property of Durham College.)

Supporting the Center for Food’s vision of improved rural economy is Chef Jamie Kennedy, who is an ambassador of the CFF’s programs. Chef Kennedy makes regular visits to the campus and works with the students, sharing with them his love of food as an expression of art and instilling within them the professional pride in using locally produced food.

For parents living in the GTA with high-school aged children interested in hospitality, horticulture or culinary studies, you may do well to check out Durham College’s offerings. And if you’re in the area--with kids looking for a college or no—check out the Bistro ’67 and Pantry for some delicious, local foods.