Cooking up a rewarding career with Liaison College Barrie

By Bruce Cameron

Rudy Florio gets chefs. The co-founder of Liaison College understands that, at heart, they're kitchen artists. “That's why they drive their bosses crazy sometimes –- they're passionate about what they do,” he said with a laugh.

With 10 campuses in Ontario, Liaison College, formed in 1996, is Canada's largest chef training facility. The Barrie campus, at the corner of Dunlop West and Toronto streets, opened its doors in 2006 and has over the years helped hundreds of students realize dreams of cooking for a living. In fact, Liaison boasts a 90 percent employment rate for its graduates. Florio explains that success: “We offer high quality hands-on training so that graduates are job-ready and, there's always a big demand for quality chefs.”

For many of those graduates, the Liaison experience started with a curiosity, a hunger for something different, something better in their lives –- a rewarding career back-dropped with the sounds of sizzling or clanging pots and pans: the sounds of a busy kitchen.

“Some students aren't necessarily sure about becoming a chef in the first place but when they come in, take a tour, meet the staff, see the facilities or maybe sit in on a class for free, they see the possibilities and are excited to get going,” said Florio.

After the initial visit, Liaison's admissions officer chats with the prospective student, discovering what his or her goals are within a culinary arts career.

That includes choosing from six professional programs and courses. Here, a quick overview of each. The Basic Cook Diploma is an intensive 300-hour exploration and application of classic culinary techniques. The Chef de Cuisine Diploma offers a thorough 600-hour examination and application of both basic and advanced classic culinary techniques. The Culinary Management Diploma is, says Florio, regarded as Liaison's “ultimate diploma program,” and combines the advanced culinary skills of the Chef de Cuisine program with the business skills of the Entrepreneurial Skills for Chefs certificate.

The Personal Chef Diploma sharpens students' culinary talents and prepares them for the technical side of running their own business. The Specialist Chef Diploma is crafted for those students wanting to start a food service business or to become a personal chef. And, the Red Seal Examination Preparation Certificate is designed for working chefs who've completed (or nearly completed) the 6,000-hour work experience needed to sit for the Red Seal examination. This course helps them review theory essential to successful completion of the exam.

Enrollment at Liaison College is limited. “And that,” says Florio, “makes for smaller classes and a great student-teacher ratio. At most, there's a dozen, maybe 15 students per class.” Florio also noted that, because most students range in age from 25 to 50, they're really committed to what they're doing, helping to elevate the positive learning environment.

In terms of career options for graduates, the list is long: restaurants; institutional kitchens in schools and hospitals; kids cooking camps; wineries; private chefs; catering; craft kitchens for movie and TV sets; golf courses; ski resorts; butcher shops; pastry shops; baking facilities; hotels; cruise ships; cooking schools such as the ones offered via the LCBO and Loblaws; and, of courses, the ever-growing retirement home industry.

“There are lots of different types of jobs out there,” said Florio. “Because of the nature of the business, most of our graduate chefs will work around 60 hours a week -– and they love it. They're on their feet, they're moving, they're doing exactly what they like to do and they're getting well paid for it.”

Liaison College Barrie is located at 94 Dunlop West. For more information, call (705) 417-0473 or click over to

Originally posted at: Orillia Packet HERE

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