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Chef Bio: Kyla Rajkumar, On The Line Instructor

Why I became a Chef

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Chef Kyla featured on the front page of  Toronto Metro News

Growing up in Trinidad and Tobago, food was the centre of any event. No matter where we went or who we were with, an outdoor kitchen was made and the most delicious food was prepared. The outdoor kitchen would naturally become the focal point of any hangout.  This subconsciously instilled a love of food in me.  As I got older, I carried on that tradition with my own friends.  My parents and grandmothers were great cooks and as a child, a lot of time was spent helping them in the kitchen. Trinidad being so culturally diverse allowed me to experience a variety of cuisines and flavours.  I always enjoyed cooking.  I loved the feeling of satisfaction I would get when someone would try my food and enjoy it.  I recognized the fact that I  had a skill that most of my friends didn’t have at the time. I enjoyed the process of taking a raw or unprocessed ingredient and turning it into something amazing. Cooking gave me the instant satisfaction of starting and completing something.

Education & Career

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The River Café – England

I returned to Canada and found my first job at Mildred Pierce. I worked as an entremetier and eventually as a saucier. I then moved on to Cowbell, one of Toronto’s first whole animal, nose to tail restaurants. While there, I was taught the art of butchery and charcuterie. I spent a number of years at the Gladstone Hotel as well.  At Gladstone, I was given the opportunity to work directly with local farms and received fresh produce that highlighted the menu. My last restaurant job prior to teaching was at The Gabardine.

 

I was part of the opening crew as sous chef. We developed the menus and built a strong kitchen brigade bringing the restaurant much success. I was fortunate to also act as manager at the Gabardine, overseeing day to day operations.

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Chef Graham Pratt from the Gabardine visits our kitchen and works with participants

Why Teach?

I’ve always enjoyed teaching, working with new staff, and welcome the opportunity to train aspiring chefs.  There is a sense of pride in passing on my skills and knowledge and have always known that if I’m not cooking professionally, I would be teaching. Teaching gives me a sense of fulfillment, especially when I see the confidence growing in my students.

Step Out in Style!

There is such a marked difference between the first day and the last of classes.  I can see their confidence growing when they cook and present dishes and I love seeing how blown away they get once they realize their ability to make restaurant quality dishes.  Teaching also gives me the opportunity to give back to the industry by training new cooks and allowing me to pay-it-forward in a sense, for all the great people and places that I learned from.  I feel very content knowing that I’m helping others to build a life skill, that at the very least, teaches my students to cook for themselves and their families – just like I used to in Trinidad and Tobago.

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Mackerel fishing – Trinidad & Tobago

What can students expect to learn from you and the program?

Students can expect to touch on all fundamentals.  From basic knife skills, vegetable preparations, soups, sauces, basic butchery, and pastry.  Each student will be expected to create and plate composed dishes using the techniques and skills learned in the program.

I’m a fair and an easily approachable instructor that works with students in groups and independently.  This ensures that you feel comfortable with the task at hand.  Like any successful kitchen, you are expected to work as a team and communicate in a constructive manner. By the end of the program, you will have learned more than just cooking skills, but also how to work as a team, follow instructions, and delegate in a professional way.

OTL


On The Line is a unique 11-Week Paid Culinary Training program that offers skills-building opportunities and employment readiness support to youth between the ages of 15 and 30.

The program offers: 

  • 5 weeks of intensive kitchen training and pre-employment support to prepare individuals to start a career as line cooks
  • Menu planning, knife skills & food prep training from a Chef Instructor
  • Food Handler and WHMIS certifications
  • Participants will get paid for 30h per week to attend the sessions
  • One-on-one assistance with job search
  • 6 weeks of paid work placement following the training
  • Valuable work experience
  • Ongoing support throughout your employment

Visit the website for more info and registration details. New session starting soon!

 

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