We wake up every morning thinking “today is a great day to learn and cook.”
We are educators with a passion for learning as much as for creating exciting food. In a sense, we think of ourselves as life-long learning cooks and not “master” chefs who have reached their ceiling (one of the reasons we don’t wear the tall hats). The best teachers don’t just share their knowledge: they learn their learner.
Tony Minichiello – Culinary Instructor
I was born in Montreal, Quebec, but raised in a proud southern Italian home, which meant at an early age I knew how to garden, make the year’s supply of tomato sauce, wine, grappa, cheese, and charcuterie. Even as I hopped from Engineering to Anatomy and finally to Drama and Theater at McGill University, food and cooking was a constant pre-occupation. But it was my European travels which finally made me take a leap of faith at 27 to enrol at L’Institut de Tourisme et d’Hotellerie du Quebec. My thespian nature meant I was going to experience as many kitchens and styles as possible. Though not a recommended journey for all, it did bring me to Vancouver in 1990, an untapped frontier of re-invention and experimentation. This environment eventually led me to my next trajectory: teaching. And this set the stage for eventually building Northwest, a full-circle opportunity to write a fresh script and create a new storyline with new character development every term. I’m told I bring an unbridled enthusiasm to the kitchen/classroom, and I have no intention to curb it. But what drives me is teaching the importance of leadership, challenging the status quo, and finding the courage to try what has not yet been done.
Stacy Cherewyk – Pastry Instructor
I was born in Vancouver and came from a family who loves food. I was most inspired to bake by my Danish grandmother, who could bake the most amazing pastries. She really trained my taste buds to know what good ingredients taste like and to expect nothing less. As early as six years old, I remember my mom putting all kinds of ingredients on the table and letting me (and my sister) go for it. She knew we would create something edible at the very least. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in baking. But it was something I took for granted and didn’t really notice. After high school I started working for a bank as a customer service representative, but I had no passion for it. I finally decided to go to school for baking when I was 26 years old. I simply wanted more from my life. Growing up, my parents had always told us to “find your bliss” and earn your living doing that. I started taking cake decorating classes, and eventually went to Vancouver Community College and took the Baking and Pastry Arts program in 1997. I worked at the Sutton Place Hotel for fifteen years, starting as a commis and working my way up to co-running the pastry department. During that time I took on a second job for a couple of summers to round out my experience. I am very dedicated to this world of pastry and love to share it with others who are interested in it as well. I bring patience to the classroom, a very key ingredient to developing the intricate skills with all things pastry and breads.
Curtis Webb – Culinary Instructor
I was born and raised in North Vancouver. I spent the majority of my free time at a family cabin on a small orchard in Howe Sound. Gardening, fishing and living off everything we grew attracted me to cooking. I got a taste of the industry during my high school days, which led to an apprenticeship at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver. I then travelled and cooked throughout North America, working as a private chef for an Indy Racing team and as a menu planner for a professional hockey player and a mixed martial arts fighter. I eventually returned to Vancouver to start a culinary consulting/catering company. The Olympics brought me to Joe Fortes as the Executive Sous Chef, followed by a time as Executive Chef at The Goldfish. Both experiences, especially as a mentor, inspired me to search for my next career move. A call from Chef Tony Minichiello was the exact direction in my career path I had hoped, a chance to teach and inspire fresh minds and eyes! I love being in the thick of things with students, accepting any challenge, and helping inspire people to face the day with courage and pride.
Alana Peckham, Culinary Instructor
My journey in cooking started at the young age of 8 years old. My mom would do all of the prep and under her supervision, I would execute the meals and cook the stir fry’s. I discovered in my teens that I had a love for all things food. Watching cooking shows, before The Food Network came around, and experiencing new foods definitely excited me! This love would lead me to enter the professional world of food and cooking. I started my career at Dubrulle International Culinary School, followed by positions at Feenie’s and Lumiere before eventually becoming the Executive Chef at CRU and later The Hart House Restaurant. My experience in these top local restaurants prepared me for my win on The Food Network’s popular show Chopped Canada in 2015! Since my win, I have been the Corporate Chef for Alligga and a private catering chef. I now join Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver with full confidence that I will be able to help influence and guide our dedicated students to reach their goals. My attention to detail and organization will be key assets to mine and our students’ success here at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. Aside from my passion for food, I also have a great love for my family and dogs. I was born and raised here in Vancouver and I take great pleasure in enjoying our West coast lifestyle.
Jonathan Kinney – Culinary Instructor
I was born in New Westminster, BC and raised in a Scottish/Canadian home, probably one of only a few people on the West Coast who can say that I am a 10th generation Canadian. I grew up in a household where food was fuel, but regardless, early on, I knew I loved to cook. I took that with me when I went to the University of Victoria to pursue a BA in History and Geography and later a Masters in Public Administration. Throughout university and into married life I always cooked for other people. I always dreamed of doing something in food but life got in the way. I had my own management consulting firm for 13 years. But at as I approached 40 I knew I wanted to seriously pursue a career in food. I attended Northwest in 2008 and immersed myself in the one year program. After graduation I worked at Culinary Capers Catering and did my own catering on the side. The variety of experiences, situations and events gave me an essential insight into the world of high end catering. These food experiences, coupled with my background in running my own business, led me full circle back to Northwest.
Warren Pahl – Culinary & Pastry Instructor
I grew up on the prairies in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. After attending the University of Saskatchewan I moved through seasonal jobs at various mountain resorts throughout British Columbia, eventually earning a diploma in Adventure Tourism Business Management in 1996. I worked as a white water rafting guide and as a cook for Reo resort. During my second year the head chef resigned and I was forced to assume his responsibilities, something that, at the time, was way beyond my comfort zone. However, to my surprise, not only was I capable of doing the job, but I excelled at it and returned the following year. I was well aware that I still had a great deal more to learn so I moved to Vancouver and attended Dubrulle International Culinary School where Chef Tony Minichiello was one of my chef instructors. After culinary school I worked at the Sutton Place Hotel, starting as an apprentice and leaving as a sous chef. I accepted an Executive Chef’s position in Taipei, Taiwan where, over the course of the next three years I opened three restaurants and trained staff. In the winter of 2009 I returned to Vancouver, leaving my position at the American Club in China to become a culinary instructor at Northwest. I have a passion for creating efficient organizational systems, and setting a good example for the students to learn from. It has, after all, been the major reason for my success.
Michelle Fattore, Pastry Instructor
As long as I can remember I have loved to be in the kitchen, cooking, and more so baking. I decided to take the plunge and immerse myself in all things food at the age of 26. I quit my job and moved to Vancouver from Ontario to train at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver. After graduating from the full year program I took a position at the Pear Tree training under Scott Jaeger and then at CRU training under Alana Peckham (who I now have the pleasure of working with again). I was given the wonderful opportunity to work under Barb Finley assisting her in her unique and influential program, Project CHEF; teaching elementary school children how to cook healthy edible food. But there was something missing, as much as I loved Vancouver I needed more. I moved to the South Pacific, cooking and baking in cafes in both Australia and New Zealand. This fueled my desire to travel, to learn and to taste what the world had to offer. The next few years would take me to Nepal, India, Morocco, England, Spain and France. With the nourishment of travel, I was ready to plant seeds and grow roots in Vancouver again. I was given the opportunity to return to Northwest as a pastry instructor and work with a team that had known and supported me throughout my culinary development. It just felt right. When I’m not at Northwest, I enjoy collaborating on artistic food projects with friends. I bring a love of pastries to Northwest that is expressed in my enthusiasm to constantly re-learn the classics, using modern techniques and creativity to create new classics.
Lena Hackenbruch – Office Manager, Registrar
After completing my Bachelor of Business Administration from BCIT, I spent a year as a Marketing Coordinator and four years as a Sales and Marketing Coordinator in the telecommunication industry. While I enjoyed my work, the industries bored me to no end and I had to move onto something that peaked my interest. Anyone who knows me well knows that food is (almost) always on my mind. Now at Northwest Culinary Academy of Vancouver, I can enjoy my work, learn new cooking tips and love the industry that I’m in! There’s never a dull moment here!
At Northwest we are not too proud to acknowledge that there are chefs out there who have specialized skills that our students want and need.
Andrea Potter – Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Owner of Rooted Nutrition
I’m a classically trained chef, having graduated from culinary school at NAIT in Edmonton, Alberta. I gained experience in top restaurants such as Jack’s Grill in Edmonton, Paul Rankin’s Roscoff Brasserie in Belfast, Ireland and then at Feenie’s in Vancouver. My love of nutrition and organic whole foods and healthy lifestyle brought me to Radha Yoga and Eatery, a culinary vegetarian hot spot in Vancouver, where I started teaching healthy cooking classes and was the head chef. Inspired by my own experience with healing through a whole-foods based diet, I then studied at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, where I graduated as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist in 2009. I started Rooted Nutrition 2010. My series of whole-foods cooking classes pair sound nutrition information with organic, vibrant, beautifully prepared recipes. At Northwest I introduce the students to mindful food practices through both discussions and kitchen experiments, juxtaposing classically prepared dishes with alternative ideas.