When work and education come together

The OC Culinary Arts Program is designed for students with a demonstrated interest in following a career in food preparation and service.

Elysia and Erin Kokayko at Erin’s graduation from the culinary arts program at Okanagan College.

Erin Kokayko, a recent graduate of the Okanagan College Culinary Program, is excited to begin her career.

Born and raised in Kelowna, Erin, who comes from a family of 10, worked part-time as she completed her certificate with Okanagan College and was one of the top performing partners while working at JOEY Kelowna.

Designed for students with a demonstrated interest in following a career in food preparation and service, the OC Culinary Arts Program provides the necessary fundamental knowledge for employment as a cook in an institutional, camp or hospitality setting. Emphasis is placed on the practical aspects of food preparation, presentation and service as these are fundamental skills needed to get a job.

In addition to in-class lessons, Erin needed to complete 1,200 work-based hours to graduate. Working at JOEY provided her not only the hours she needed to graduate but education working in a lively kitchen and practise with real scenarios.

“The experience was great,” said Erin. “Between the education I received in class and the real life training I received at JOEY I feel well equipped to start my career. Too often I see students focus on getting a degree or certificate and putting work aside to focus on studies. At the end of the day employers are looking for candidates who can do the job.”

After Erin completed her education she returned to JOEY to take her job to a career.  With the drive and talent she showed the organization, they saw a fit for her in head office. She will be working as the culinary coordinator.

Erin is not the only Kokayko to have an interest in the culinary arts. Her older sister Elysia is a Red Seal Chef with JOEY working with the IT department.

Said Elysia: “I’m so excited to see my sister begin her career here. There are great opportunities with this company and there is something to be said for education that puts emphasis on practical experience.”