“Having three female instructors, it feels very empowering and motivational,” says first-year Culinary Arts student Ashley Rye, who hopes to one day own her own bakery or restaurant. She knows the Foodservices industry is dominated by males and appreciates learning from women who are extremely successful in their trade.
Chef Instructors: Erin Howe, Colleen Neily and Mallory Pidrucheny
“They come with such drive and so much creativity that it definitely benefits our team here at the college,” says Jason Sachko, Red Seal Chef and Hospitality Coordinator at Portage College. “As a program, we weren’t specifically looking for male or female instructors but it just happened that we have three very qualified, talented, female instructors, and I think that is great!”
The three chefs have a combined fifty years of industry experience which encompasses banquet, business, hotel, and fine dining as much as conference and concert catering. They agree, being a skilled tradeswoman doesn’t come without challenges.
“When I went to school there was only one female chef instructor,” says Pirducheney, whose achievements include winning food product development competitions for cake mixes placing her first provincially and second nationally.
Neily, who is proud to have become Nunavut’s first Red Seal Chef and who has cooked privately for Prince William and Duchess Kate as well as with many celebrity chefs on TV’s the Food Network, mentions “The amount of jobs that we apply for, we are overqualified in comparison to our male counterparts.”
“I think we tend to just assume that our reputation and work will stand up for itself but you kind of have to promote and pump yourself up,” explains Howe, whose career has taken her to Australia, Scotland, and New Zeeland. “You have to sell yourself.”
Culinary Arts Student: Deandra Half
First-year Culinary Arts student Deandra Half recognizes her experience at Portage College is a special one, learning hands-on from these women who daily share their passion and expertise. “It gives me a comfortable environment,” she says “being a female in the industry you kind of get pushed around or doubted, so here I feel more welcome.”
For more information about Hospitality programs:
Lindsay Toth | Marketing Specialist