Vancouver Community College's Asian Culinary Arts Program Feeds Demand
Originally published in Star Metro Vancouver
From perfectly rolled sushi to the crisp vegetables and tender beef of a good stir fry, students at Vancouver Community College’s (VCC) Asian culinary arts program are learning the tips and tricks of Chinese, Japanese, Malaysian, Thai, Singaporean, Vietnamese, Korean, and fusion cuisine.
It’s an art, says the school’s Asian culinary department leader, which gives students an in-demand skill set.
“There are so many Asian restaurants opening in the Lower Mainland and even supermarkets with Asian kitchens, such as Safeway and T&T Supermarket, are increasingly coming to me to look for students,” says Barry Tsang. “We also get students who simply want to learn Asian cuisine as a hobby.”
Offered at VCC for more than 40 years, Asian Culinary Arts is the only full-time program of its kind in North America. Twenty weeks in length, it features a concentrated delivery in a modern, fully equipped commercial kitchen. The program is divided into lectures and hands-on training, with students learning about 150 recipes — which are served in the school’s cafeteria — by the time they graduate.
“I always tell my students the only difference between our kitchen and a real kitchen is that I can’t curse,” jokes Tsang. “Their training is very realistic and each day they are doing something new because they rotate roles to ensure they experience all the techniques.”
While learning to prepare and cook meat, poultry, seafood, and vegetables, students acquire the know-how of cooking methods including stir frying, pan frying, deep frying, broiling, braising, and steaming.
Proper use, handling, and care for different equipment and woks are also covered, as are health and safety, sanitation standards, B.C. labour standards, and food costing.
“I want students to understand their rights as professionals in this industry, which is why the curriculum goes beyond cooking,” says Tsang. “I want to ensure they are well rounded.”