The Professinal Cook 1, 2, 3 (Institutional Entry) Certificate program is offered at both NIC’s Campbell River and Port Alberni campuses in fully-equipped training facilities. To help ensure future advancement in your career, you will be registered as an apprentice upon entering the program and will gain apprenticeship credit as you proceed through each Certificate of Qualification.
The program consists of three levels of qualification: Professional Cook 1, Professional Cook 2 and Professional Cook 3, which provide recognized provincial certification on completion of each level. The Interprovincial (Red Seal) for Cook will be affixed to the Professional Cook 3 certificate. Each qualification level consists of an in-school training program, practical and theoretical examinations and a workplace time requirement.
NIC’s Professional Cook program has been accredited by the Canadian Forces and graduates can gain advanced standing as a cook (apprentice). For more information, visit Paid Education.
Career opportunities such as pastry cooks and bakers, sous chefs and executive chefs are based on an individual’s goals, experience and abilities. Positions in bistros/restaurants, cruise ships, fishing/eco-tourism resorts, catering companies, hospitals, hotels, logging and mining camps, spa and destination resorts, specialty food services, extended care facilities and culinary tourism are examples of the many opportunities available to graduates. Graduates have also gone on to open their own catering and home businesses.
After five years at the Journeyperson level, you may enter the Chef de Cuisine certification program available through the Canadian Culinary Federation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I take this program?
If you are considering a career as a cook or aspire to be an executive chef, sous chef, pastry cook, restaurant manager or to operate your own restaurant or café, then this program is a perfect start to your career. Do you enjoy creating great meals? Do you like the fast pace of a busy work day? Do you have an artistic talent? Or maybe you haven’t discovered it yet. Are you a team player? Are you willing to work hard for personal satisfaction in a job? If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may wish to consider culinary arts as a career.
Why should I take this program?
Through a supportive and progressive model, you will acquire the skills necessary for success in today’s fast paced commercial kitchens. Beginning with fundamental skills development, and away from the pressure of production, you will gain the foundations of your trade. As you progress, emphasis is placed on teamwork, communication skills, food production with speed, kitchen management and culinary artistry. You will gain experience preparing and plating meals for breakfast, lunch, banquet and fine-dining service. To help ensure future advancement in your career you will be registered as an apprentice upon entering the program and gain apprenticeship credit along the way. The demand for qualified professional cooks has never been greater at all levels of qualification.
How long does it take?
To gain Red Seal certification as a cook, you require 5,000 hours in the workplace, the completion of all three levels of technical training, and successfully pass the Interprovincial (Red Seal) examination. To receive certification as a Professional Cook 1, you are required to complete 1,000 hours of workplace experience and Professional Cook 1 technical training. To receive certification as a Professional Cook 2, you are required to complete a further 1,000 hours of workplace experience and Professional Cook 2 technical training. By successfully completing your training at NIC, you will receive 600 hours workplace credit toward the completion of Professional Cook 1 and 240 hours credit toward the completion of Professional Cook 2, in addition to receiving the technical training credits for each level.
Program lengths are:
- Professional Cook 1 (840 hrs. approx.) - 28 weeks
- Professional Cook 2 (420 hrs. approx.) - 14 weeks
- Professional Cook 3 (180 hrs. approx.) - six weeks
- Each can be taken in consecutive order for a total of 1,440 hours over 48 weeks.
What will I study?
Equipment operation and safety; receiving and storing of foods; weights and measures; kitchen terminology; salads, dressings, sandwiches, short order (garde manger); vegetables, farinaceous dishes; stocks, soups and sauces (entremetier); meats, poultry, seafood, games dishes and sauces (rotissier); desserts, pastries, cakes, yeast and bakery products (patissier); menu planning and design, food costing, recipe writing, inventory, purchasing and receiving and nutrition.
What is a typical day like?
In Campbell River, your day in Professional Cook 1, during production and food service, begins at 8 am and goes to 2 pm. You’ll begin with a briefing of the day’s events and then it’s into the kitchen. If you are on entremetier station (soups, stocks, vegetables and farinaceous) you will start preparing the days soups and stocks, or vegetables. At service time you will be serving customers directly in the cafeteria (hot entrees, salad bar, market grill, deli stations and desserts.) Once you have had your lunch then it’s time to organize for the next day and have a de-briefing and re-cap the day. Theory classes involve preparing you for the module exams and as well as the related practical production for that week. During the evening you will need to study for the station module exams and review necessary theory and recipes for the next day. Professional Cook 2 will start at 2 pm and finish at approximately 9:30 pm. The afternoon and evening’s agenda revolves around the special in-house events and dining room, as well as theory, practical workshops.
In Port Alberni, all classes are 8 am until 3 pm, Monday to Thursday. At service time, you will be serving directly to the customer in the dining room. The day’s agenda revolves around special events and dining room, as well as theory, practical workshops and field trips.
How am I evaluated?
There are three parts to the evaluation process. You are graded on your practical work in the kitchen. The second part is the theory component which is evaluated by assignments and written exams. A good portion of the theory is learned during home study. You are also required to write an end of level practical and theory exam. You must achieve a minimum of 70 per cent in each course to be successful in the program. You must successfully complete Professional Cook 1, including the 400 workplace hours requirement, before entering Professional Cook 2 and again successfully completely all requirements for Professional Cook 2 before entering Professional Cook 3.
Is there opportunity for advanced placement?
Yes, if you have significant industry experience you may qualify for challenge exams and placements. If you have completed a career preparation program for cooking in senior secondary you may qualify for advanced placement.
Will I need my own knives and uniforms?
Yes, you are required to supply a set of knives and uniforms but it is recommended that you wait until classes begin before purchasing, as contacts and quality of knives will be reviewed with the chef instructor.
Is there much homework?
You should expect approximately 12 to15 hours of homework/study per week.
Are there any higher levels of certification in cooking?
Yes. Once you are finished the program you are well on your way to completing your apprenticeship. You will then need to fulfill the practical hours of work and training in industry. At that time you are designated as a journeyperson. After five years, you may apply to the Canadian Culinary Institute of the Culinary Federation to enrol in the Chef de Cuisine certification program. This process can be facilitated through the North Vancouver Island Chefs Association. Upon successful completion of that program, you will be a Certified Chef du Cuisine.
• four 2” three-ring binders
• paper, pens, pencils, highlighter
• metric conversion calculator, Sharp EL-520WBBK recommend
• texts for the program (available at the NIC Bookstore)
Note: The following supplies are also mandatory but do not purchase until after the first day of class upon consultation with the instructor:
• french knife - 10”
• boning knife - 6”
• paring knife - 3” or 4”
• bread knife
• carving knife
• steel - 14”
• vegetable peeler (floater type)
• parisienne scoop
• instant read thermometer
• citrus zester
• carrying case
• digital timer
• digital scale
• pastry scraper
• pastry bag and assorted tips (comes with kit)
• 2” flat pastry brush
• measuring spoons, 1 set
• kitchen shears
• WCB-approved footwear - non-slip soles, closed toe shoes
• uniform: chef jacket, black and white check pants, (minimum two sets of each)
• bib apron (2)
• black pill box hat
• bar wipes (6)