Sweet success for Okanagan College culinary student

Rachel Broe says her winning essay submission in B.C.-wide bursary competition was a life-changing moment for her career dreams.

  • Jan. 11, 2016 7:00 p.m.

Rachel Broe

Between juggling a busy work schedule and caring for her three-year-old son, sous chef Rachel Broe thought her dream of becoming a certified Red Seal Chef would have to stay on the backburner. Then she found the recipe for a new future in 500 words or less.

“I was completely overwhelmed when I found out I had won, it was a life-changing moment,” recalled Broe, who learned last summer that that an essay she had penned was selected as the top entry in a B.C.-wide competition organized by the Okanagan College Foundation, the college’s trades and apprenticeship department and Sun FM stations in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton.

Broe enrolled in the professional cook apprenticeship program at the Kelowna campus last September and has been quick to parlay her training into new opportunity. Now, she is inviting others to follow her lead and tell their story—it could mean a major entrance bursary to Okanagan College by the end of this month.

Entries for the second round of the competition will be accepted from Jan. 11 to 31. Ten bursaries valued at $5,000 each will be awarded to students who demonstrate financial need and who are looking to enrol in one of five eligible foundation trades programs at Okanagan College this year: Culinary Arts, Collision Repair, RV Technician, Residential Construction and Sheet Metal Worker.

“Cooking has always been my passion,” said Broe. “But my son is my top priority. So receiving a bursary like this has taken the stress out of going back to school. It has allowed me to focus on my future and get the most out of this amazing opportunity.”

Shortly after moving to Kelowna, she landed a new job in the fast-paced kitchen of the Tree Brewing Beer Institute in downtown Kelowna. Broe also hopes to compete against some of the best up-and-coming chefs in the province at the Skills Canada culinary competitions coming up in April.

Her previous experience includes more than five years working up the line to sous chef in the busy kitchen of Theos Restaurant in Penticton. Broe credits owners Theo and Mary Theodosakis for nurturing in her a deep love and respect for food.

“Having love in your food is very important,” she noted. “The family at Theo’s has broadened my passion and helped me immensely throughout my journey.”

Ultimately, Broe hopes to complete Level 3 apprenticeship training, which involves 36 weeks of classroom training and three years of work based training as a chef.

“I’m incredibly excited about what this training can mean for my future. I’ve already learned an incredible amount in a short time at the college,” she said.

Entries are now being accepted for the second round of the trades tuition competition, open to B.C. residents aged 17 years or older. Full contest rules and more information about how to enter can be found at www.okanagan.bc.ca/foundation.

The competition is being coordinated in partnership with Sun FM in Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton and EZ Rock Salmon Arm and Revelstoke, which have donated media and promotional support to help promote this opportunity to potential students from Salmon Arm to the South Okanagan.

The bursaries have also been made possible as part of a donation of $250,000 to Okanagan College made by The Joyce Foundation in December 2015.

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