At the Liaison College Barrie graduation ceremony yesterday, the guest speaker was an alumnus of Liaison College. I was looking forward to meeting her and getting some insights into her progress from student to Executive Chef. What I didn't expect. but was delighted to meet, was the dynamic, energetic, friendly and passionate woman with the colourful hair with a personality bubbling with passion for her profession as a Chef. And mentor, as it turns out.
Chef Ericka was groomed for the foodservice industry at a very young age (12) at her family home on Christian Island north of Barrie where, she tells me, she had very humble beginnings in the bush foraging for food items and creating such things as Choke Cherry jam. Her mother, however, planted the seed for foodservice. Her mother was the chef at the Georgian Peaks in Collingwood for years and then operated a snack bar and road house closer to home in their community. Nowadays you will find her mom tirelessly preparing her famous meat pies (they are legendary and hard to come by).
Ericka graduated from Liaison College in 2007 or so, and since then has been working her way through local kitchens learning and perfecting her craft. At 32 years old, she has been working in the industry for over 20 years. Hard to believe!
Ericka coached the grads assembled by telling them that the industry was for the passionate; you get out of it what you put into it. Ericka is living proof that hard work and dedication do pay off. Today she is the Executive Chef at Christie's Mill - Inn & Spa - a posh resort at Port Severn - and her weekly hours in the kitchen are enhanced with endless amounts of paper that pile on her desk. It's a 7 day a week job - speaking at the grad afforded her a much needed break.
Some fun facts about Chef Ericka: