Pearson Culinary School joins forces with Native Friendship Centre.

Sebastien Papatens of the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal with Pearson students.

Students from the Pearson School of Culinary Arts in Pointe Claire joined forces with the Native Friendship Centre of Montreal (NFCM) in a meeting of culinary minds last week.

Although it’s not the first time the students have had the opportunity to be out in the greater community, this is the first event of this magnitude; over a period of three days the two groups together prepared 3,000 meals, enough food to last months, says Donna Colmenero, the school’s chief instructor.

The students got a chance to meet leaders from NFCM, along with local chefs Norma Condo and Anna Lazare. Condo, a graduate of the school, now owns and runs Miqmak Catering Indigenous Kitchen in Pierrefonds, and Lazare owns Messy Kitchen Catering in Kahnawake.

Part of the students’ professional development, says Colmenero, “is getting them involved in the community and making powerful connections with different players in the industry,” including other chefs, explains Colmenero.

Getting them out of the school’s kitchen – out of their comfort zone – gives the students the opportunity to meet new chefs, to see a different perspective, and learn a new culinary culture. This year, to keep things simple, or as simple as an event this big can be, the menu included dishes like chili con carne, chicken chasseur, lentil chowder, and others, along with desserts like carrot cake and devil’s food. Preparing food at this volume, Colmenero tells The Suburban, is about “how their skills could be implemented in ways to feed whole communities.”

The hope is that, through their connection to NFMC and chefs like Condo and Lazare, that they might learn to implement indigenous culinary traditions in the future.

It was the first event of its kind, but hopefully the first of more to come.

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