Culinary student Sara Grainger, the president of the Students’ Association, studied abroad in Strasbourg, France as part of Georgian College’s study abroad initiative in 2012. Algonquin also offers the same sort of initiative, as most culinary programs do, but instead of Strasbourg, the college is sending some students to Montenegro to study in 2016.
“Before my semester abroad I had never been out of Ontario, never been on a plane, and never been away from home for so long,” said Grainger. “It was a bit scary, but I was so excited, and I had been counting down the days for months.”
In order to be eligible, students must be in the culinary program, either in culinary skills-chef training or culinary management.
“It offers students an opportunity to visit a different culture, to live in a different culture for a semester,” said Scott Warrick, who is the coordinator of the culinary program and will be joining the students in Montenegro. “It allows them to look at different markets – you know, that whole farm to fork thing – in a different country.”
Montenegro was chosen as the place to go, because the Hotel Education Centre (HEC), the college there already offers the same one-year program. A graduate from the program automatically gets a diploma from both.
Although there isn’t a major difference between the two programs, studying abroad helps students find better job opportunities because it shows they have an adaptive nature and are able to assimilate themselves into different cultures and opportunities.
“There’s no question that international experience will help (with job opportunities),” said Michael Bakogeorge, the academic chair of the Culinary Arts department. “I’m a chef by trade and 30-40 years ago, having only North American experience, you would have been deemed to be lacking some real good experience.
Bakogeorge believes that although it is not as critical today, it is still beneficial to have international experience.
He believes that the more experience you have with different cuisines and working with different types of food, the better you will be.