Chef Kevin Dahlsjo is cooking up a storm – in the community and in the kitchen
Will it be Physics or Home Economics?
Two by Dahlsjo
Kevin tried to serve local food at the Hawood in Waskesiu but said it was difficult. He’s finding it easier to manage on a smaller scale in his own restaurant.
The breakfast program provided SIIT students with work experience but no educational credit. A project officer for Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation and some community volunteers approached the Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology - Woodland Campus (SIAST) and asked them to develop an accredited eight-week community-based cooking course. They agreed, setting a precedent in Saskatchewan.
The first course is being offered by Kevin to residents at Riverbend, the minimum security facility at the Saskatchewan Penitentiary. The students obtain day passes and attend the classes five days a week. “We show them some basic skills,” says Kevin, “like roasting a chicken or making a simple meal.”
There are seven students in the initial program, and they are already sharing what they have learned with other Riverbend residents. “They’re going to be coming back into the community,” explains one of the organizers. “Why not have them leave with skills and the beginning of a trade? They can continue studying at SIAST or go to work in a kitchen.”
Kevin has started offering cooking classes at his restaurant and is looking forward to setting up a more organized program. “The kitchen is super tiny,” says Kevin, “so we set up bleacher-style seating in the restaurant where people can watch and get involved in cooking dinner.”
Kevin and his staff prepared Christmas dinner for Westview School, and he is working with the Baptist church to set up a youth food program. He would very much like to organize school cooking programs or work with school cafeterias to promote good, healthy food.
Kevin is quick to point out that he doesn’t work in isolation. His restaurant staff as well as a group of friends provide support whenever he undertakes a larger project.
SIAST, SIIT, Service Canada and Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation have all been generous with their help and support.