Culinary students get real life test making meals for COVID-affected Edmundston care homes

·3 min read

A group of New Brunswick culinary arts students are getting a chance to put their skills to the test during the pandemic.

Since Tuesday, the class of 20 at Collège communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick's Edmundston campus have taken on the task of preparing 400 meals a day for residents at Manoir Belle Vue, after a COVID-19 outbreak at the special care home forced the closure of its kitchen.

And as of Saturday, the number of meals they make daily is set to go up by another 230, as the students begin catering three meals a day to residents at Villa Desjardins, which was also forced to close its kitchen.

"They asked for the service, and for us, we had to do little adjustments but it was a no-brainer for us to go for it with Villa Desjardins since we were already doing Manoir Belle Vue," said Sylvain Boucher, culinary arts instructor at the college.

"So equipment-wise we were able to do Villa Desjardins, but had to do bigger [food] orders. That's why we're only starting on Saturday."

Boucher said his class has been split in half, with 10 working a 6 a.m. to noon shift, and the other 10 working an 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift to prepare the meals.

"We do our menus on a four-day basis. It does change each day.

"We try to have a good variety of vegetables and protein to bring them all the nutrients they need for the day, and so we had a dietitian from Vitalité [Health Network] and... she's able to give us pointers on how to do things and it helps a lot."

A unique experience for students

Boucher would normally have been teaching his students the basics on how to properly cut and prepare foods, but now the students are getting a more hands-on introduction to what it's like working in a real kitchen.

"They're learning like in real life, like they would apply in a restaurant and doing it for real. So it's quite different, but it's still a learning process and I think the experience is going to have a big advantage when they'll be graduating because of all the experience that's come out of this."

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Joanie Sivret has more on her plate than she expected this semester.

The first-year culinary arts student is helping prepare meals for the care homes' residents.

"The past three days have been the best days of my life," Sivret said, in an interview Thursday.

"I love it so much."

Considering how well things have gone so far, Sivret said she thinks she and her classmates will be able to handle the extra work to come as of Saturday.

"I'm excited to see how it's going to go for sure. The way we're going right now, I think we're going to do pretty good, so I'm not that nervous."