What you should know.
What is the typical profile of your student body?
Over our history, 53% female – 47% male; 2/3 between ages of 22-35 (average age is 28); two-thirds with university education; more than half are career changers; about 25% international. The common denominator of our students is that they are smart, have a thirst for learning, and are mature, hard-working, and good people. That’s what binds us all.
Does Northwest demand industry experiences to be accepted into the professional programs?
We screen for excellent, hard-working, and open-minded learners. Period. If you do have industry experience, great – you know exactly what kind of profession you’re getting into. If you have a resume that speaks well about your work ethic and learning skills, no matter what field, great. After all, it’s not as if you’ve never cooked, eaten, or travelled and been inspired before – you’re probably reading this because you have. In either case, we’ll talk about what you perhaps need to know.
Note: The 15-Week Professional Diploma Programs are more industry-focused than the summer culinary camps. For some, these camps may be more suitable, depending on your personal reasons for pursuing this education. Read more about them, or talk to Lena and/or one of the instructors for more advice.
What is the process to being accepted at Northwest?
Firstly, we expect that you’ve done your research and due diligence about which school and program is right for you. We encourage you to go through our website thoroughly – we hide nothing, and don’t rush you. Lena, our registrar and first voice of Northwest, will answer any of your questions swiftly to the best of her ability, and even arrange for you to speak to a chef-instructor the same day. If you are a local or plan to spend some time in Vancouver, Canada, we encourage you to come and spend a day with us. Every day is Open House at Northwest. If you are from out-of-town, we arrange a phone or Skype interview. The interview is for us to know each other better. We can also arrange to connect you with graduates who were in your very shoes, to learn more about the Northwest experience. The final process is reviewing a submitted application. Our response is prompt.
Why are Northwest’s professional programs shorter than others? Will I get what I need?
Some schools prepare their curriculum to teach to a younger learner; we expect to teach to responsible adults (regardless of age). By putting the right people in the right environment with the right structure, motivation, and tools, we simply get more done in a day than any school.
Our professional diploma programs cover all the requirements demanded by the ITA, from the fundamentals in Level 1 to more advanced techniques in Levels 2 and 3. Some schools omit or only cover in the second/third year. However, our diploma programs demand your intensity to get everything – and more – of what you need.
Do your programs qualify for the Cooks Red Seal?
Northwest is accredited to teach and certify the Level 1 & 2 of the Cooks Red Seal. As well, we can sponsor our students (regardless of whether they wish to take the Cooks or Bakers Red Seal) no matter where they work, and even our international students qualify for this program. Our Professional Culinary Arts Program qualifies students for the Level 1, and our 1-Year Professional Program for Levels 1 and 2. The final Level 3 encompasses skills learned throughout the apprenticeship process and requires a certain amount of industry hours as well as a final practical exam. Our professional programs qualify for hours towards the Red Seal, as do all volunteer work after school, and all 480 hours of the 1-Year Program’s Internship. Also, we’ve modeled practical exams from our Professional Culinary and Pastry Programs to simulate the final Red Seal exam (thus far, 100% of our students who have challenged the Level 3 of the Red Seal have passed).
Why is Northwest tuition lower than most private schools?
We maximize our space (only 10% devoted to administration) and labour efficiencies (all employees are owners) to the fullest. Simply, our collaborative ownership model generates the most learning for the buck.
Why don’t you have a restaurant?
Why pay full tuition for this experience when it awaits you? Our industry colleagues have real and varied kitchens to hone your skills while you’re in school – and at no tuition cost to you! We set it up, you take your toolkit after school or on weekends (how often depends on your stamina and time commitment), and you start networking. The French word for this is a “stage” – the volunteering in kitchens surrounded by experienced professionals who expose you to the next level of performance and learning.
We perform “mock restaurant” exercises during the last two weeks of the term. Students of the professional culinary and pastry programs perform their practical exams to an invited public and industry judges.
In class throughout the term students sample everything they create every day. Any food/pastries/breads left over are donated to local charities, not sold to the public.
Am I Automatically Accepted When I Apply?
Unfortunately no. First of all, if you haven’t done an interview, that will need to be completed. Then, the evaluation of your application, interview,, goals and aspirations essay, and reference is done by our registrar and chef-instructors and can take anywhere from two weeks to two months depending on the term applied for, the availability of spots, and whether we feel you are the best candidate for the position. When you have been accepted you will receive a letter (electronically and/or via snail mail) from our registrar Lena.
Where do Northwest students go after they graduate?
100% are employable, but what journey they take varies from person to person. Most take traditional routes by honing their skills in restaurant, hotel, bakery, and catering kitchens – local and world-wide. We get leads and these are passed on to you – for life! However, some students take alternative routes, whether in nutrition, education, media, and even farming. Though not everyone becomes chefs and owns their establishment, as a chef-owned school we give the student a great business model to learn from. And being intimate and approachable, we’re mentors and a support group for life.
How do you evolve your curriculum?
Simply: by listening to our students and graduates. When many suggested we look more into seed-to-table skills and knowledge, we did. When some wanted more modernist techniques covered side-by-side with the classics, we did. When some suggested we incorporate better examples of whole and healthy cooking, even address issues of allergies and food sensitivities to a greater degree, we did. The art of sustaining any business model must take into consideration the demands and values of its customers. We do.
Do you offer scholarships?
We do not offer scholarships directly. However, there are scholarships and bursaries available from the following organizations: