My name is Rick and I love food. So much so, that I became a Chef. I am 3rd generation Chef as my dad and grandfather were both Army Chefs. I didn’t start out this way, but coming from a family of 5 brothers and sisters and 2 parents that cooked, I was destined to become a professional.
My first recollection of cooking came when my parents owned a restaurant and I was about 5 years old. They were always busy and I remember my mother telling me between orders, “If you want something to eat, you better make it yourself.” So I did. My first meal was an omelet.
Growing up, it was a battle between my parents. My mother always worried about costs whereas my dad always said, “Give them that extra piece of bacon. They’ll come back because we treated them so well.” This was the fight everyday. I am a watcher. My mother had a cookbook that belonged to my grandfather. I own it now. My mom would open the book, get the ingredients needed and then start baking. She only ever looked at the recipe to get an idea of how that dish was to be made. That is how I learned. Yes, recipes are important. Creativity comes from taking that recipe and adding your own flavour to it.
My first disaster in the kitchen came when I was 11. My Aunt Nellie was travelling to visit with us. I so wanted to cook for her that I asked my parents if they would let me. They said yes. I was going to make Spaghetti and Meatballs. Her favourite. I was so excited to do this that I made the sauce and the meatballs, setting the pasta in the water 4 hours before I needed to cook it. Well, anyone who knows this scenario knows that I was in tears. The pasta had molded into 1 gooey mess. My first of many mistakes to make in my journey for knowledge.
Jumping ahead many years later. I did go to school to become an Accountant. I spent 1 1/2 years doing inventory auditing and found myself in a rut. I decided to go back to school, giving up a good paying job, working Monday – Friday, 9:00 – 5:00. I gave this up for what…to develop my abilities in the kitchen and hopefully one day become a Chef. I remember as if it juts happened yesterday, where and how I felt the day I received in the mail my letter acknowledging that I had passed my exam and was now a BR. Cook 2, Red Seal (Red Seal Chef). I opened the letter and breathed a sigh of relief. I was alone and a smile came over my face as I fell back onto the sofa. I had done it.
So, why did I become a Hospitality teacher? After 4 knee surgeries (3 on the right knee, 1 on the left knee), I am going through the process of my first knee replacement (right knee). Working in the industry wasn’t an option anymore. I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to share my knowledge, so teaching became my obsession. I have had many successes in my short time as a teacher and I am driven to become an even better teacher.
There are people I need to thank who have been supportive while I have been on this journey.
My mom. I still remember the day you came into the restaurant where I was working and had my Prime Rib dinner for the first time. You told me that you never knew I was this good of a cook. Your smile was the best compliment I ever received.
My Dad and grandfather, both who passed before this dream of mine was ever realized. Thank you for always letting me watch you cook, and letting me make mistakes.
My wife. My rock, my best friend who encouraged me to become a teacher and to stay strong when I wasn’t so sure I was ever going to see the inside of a classroom. Your love has been what completes me.
Rebecca Coulter. This amazing woman had my back when dark times fell upon me after I completed university. If it wasn’t for you, Rebecca, I wouldn’t have the opportunity I do to support, encourage and mentor these students. Thank you.
Josh Gerosavas. My best man, my best friend and my mentor. You have no idea how many times your talks with me got me through difficult moments. You showed me a world of culinary bliss and enabled me to discover who I was in the kitchen.
To the many people I know as my friends who have asked for my advice. You challenge me and share ideas with me. I appreciate each and every one of you.