Camosun Student is Cooking up a Career in the Culinary Arts
His father Mike Dunlop is the Executive Chef at Vista 18 restaurant in Chateau Victoria and is well known around town as a restaurant insider, farmer and mentor. At home, the younger Dunlop absorbed the culture of fresh, healthy food and helped his father out in the kitchen or during special events. “I think it probably started with Madrona Farms. All the cooks in Victoria did events there and Dad asked me to help out and it was really fun,” he says. “So, I started doing more and more.”
Dunlop’s budding interest in professional cooking was nurtured through Esquimalt High School’s culinary program. After graduating in 2015, he took a year off and then enrolled in Camosun’s Professional Cook program.
Today, he juggles a busy schedule which combines full-time training at Camosun and a part-time gig in the kitchen of the Union Club where he has gained real-world industry experience. “It tends to be pretty busy and I help day to day with banquets, plated dinners and buffets,” he says. “I’ve been applying more thoroughly all the things I’ve learned here at Camosun.”
Steve Walker-Duncan, Camosun’s Chair of Culinary Arts, has high praise for Dunlop. “He’s one of those students who’s very dependable. He understands the kitchen and he understands how things work within the kitchen without having to spend an enormous amount of time going through all the fundamentals. I think a good deal of that comes from his home culture and his family’s cooking pedigree.”
Walker-Duncan is a strong proponent of applied learning. “As cooks, we take raw products, we process them, we heat them, present them and serve them to the guests on their plate,” he says. “It’s essential for our students to get in the kitchen and start learning that whole process from beginning to end.”
The Classroom Restaurant at the Interurban campus exemplifies the philosophy of applied learning at Camosun. As a showcase restaurant, it offers community guests a series of four-course gourmet menus prepared and served by student apprentices like Dunlop and his peers. The Classroom Restaurant is open Tuesday to Friday evenings with reservations available between 5:30 – 7:30pm until December 15th, 2017. The next Professional Cook 2 class of ClassRoom Restaurant will open on February 6th until April 13th, 2018. Walker-Duncan notes that due to its popularity, “reservations are strongly recommended.”
After completing his Camosun training, Dunlop hopes to work in the local food industry, travel and eventually open his own restaurant.