…We create ideas.
Chefs have the amazing ability to multi-task, perform under pressure, solve problems, dance swiftly between cutting board and stove, and constantly beat the clock. But most of all, chefs make ideas – from raw – happen. In 2003, two experienced chef instructors had the idea for the kind of culinary school they wished they had gone to. In 2004, Northwest happened…on time, and on budget! The surprise was that the students initiated the kind of positive change not even the founders had anticipated. Northwest truly developed as a collaboration between teachers and learners, and continues to do so.
September 2003 – The Idea.
Tony Minichiello and Christophe Kwiatkowsky discuss the idea of building their own school.
Both from Montreal, Quebec. Each had trained at L’Institut de Tourisme et d’Hotelerie du Quebec and taught at Dubrulle Culinary Institute of Vancouver. Both owned successful businesses. Both complete their Provincial Instructor’s Diploma prior to opening Northwest. However, each pens his own strengths to the Northwest blueprint, acknowledging that the sum of their differences is greater than the vision of one. The name Northwest was chosen because it represents their own personal journey from Quebec to the Northwest, a frontier of new ideas, especially when it comes to food in North America.
December 2003 – Building the school.
A lease is signed on a closed down metal-fabrication shop.
Demolition begins the day after New Year, 2004. The school’s projected opening date was April 12, 2004 – less than 15 weeks away! Was it a little crazy? Absolutely. But cooks, as the French say, are debrouillards – jacks of all trades and great problem solvers. After four months of hard work, the deadline was met.
April 12, 2004 – The first class.
Northwest welcomes its first class of 12 students.
Barb Finley, a former Dubrulle student whose previous career had been as an education instructor at UBC, was brought on board to assist the chef instructors with honing their teaching craft. Northwest graduated all 12 students in late July. The very first graduation speeches emphasized gratefulness to the students for believing in the vision of this brand new school. Every speech since then opens with that same gratitude.