It was hot in the big tent, home of the Try-a-Trade event at World Skills. The music was booming and the lights were flashing; it wasan action-packed environment designed to encourage young people to try their hand at 17 interactive skill challenges.
There was something for everybody: the traditional trades of bricklaying, auto body painting and welding, as well as the service-oriented trades of culinary arts and hairstyling.
The lineups were long at the Culinary Arts booth, where students waited up to an hour a half to participate in vegetable and fruit carving sessions. Approximately 400 students a day created their very own Banana Dolphin. They were rewarded with a sense of achievement, a free chef’s toque and apron. The biggest challenge was safety. All participants were provided with a step-by-step demonstration to ensuring they sustained a minimum of cuts and nicks. Fifteen cases of bananas later, there were only 3 minor cuts .
So what is it that attracts people to the culinary arts? What I observe is a common passion – a love of creativity and engagement. The kitchen is a living theatre: dramatic, intense, action packed, culminating in a grand finale. Culinary arts is not only about cooking; it’s a performing art based on concepts and cultural influences.
It’s not a one-man show; it takes a well orchestrated script and a good director (often referred to as chef). And, yes, you can even be the star. The media have done much to enhance the image of aspiring culinarians. Some of it is good, some of it bad, some of it is simply shockschlock. Foul-mouthed, short-tempered are chefs are not indicative of professional standards. It’s like TV wrestling: outrageous theatre designed to entertain the lowest common denominator.
North , East, South, West. Culinary arts is a transferable skill. It’s a people thing that needs good people to deliver the goods with enthusiasm and pride. The joy of cooking is a state of mind, an attitude, a philosophy, a way of life. Not for the faint of heart, it’s a demanding but rewarding career. Opportunities abound in trendy restaurants, hotels, resorts, eco tourism & entrepreneurship
My suggestion? If you want to go bananas too, check out the excellent culinary programs available. Two-year Diploma programs at recognized schools are good choice. Find one that is hands-on, student centred and internationally recognized. Do the research, make a decision, and remain committed to lifelong learning and an exciting career.
About the World Skills Competition
The biennial WorldSkills International competition provides a unique means of exchange and comparison of world-class competency standards in the industrial trades and service sectors of the global economy. WorldSkills brings together member countries from across the world to pit the skills of their young people against the best the world has to offer. Competitors as they battle it out against the clock and those difficulties that are commonly experienced in the workplace. To learn more, visit www.worldskills.org.
Thousands of delegates and 848 competitors from over 51 countries participated in 48 skills categories at WorldSkills 2009, held in Calgary, Alberta, from September 1 through 7, 2009. Learn more at www.worldskills2009.com.
The next WorldSkills competition takes place in London, United Kingdom, from October 4 through 9, 2011.Find out more at www.worldskillslondon2011.com.