February 2021 South Shuswap Scoop Article
SOLD OUT! Those are the words often heard throughout the halls of Salmon Arm Secondary if you’re looking for a delicious and nutritious lunch. They may also be the words that career counsellors share with students who want to sign up for the Culinary Arts Program because it’s the hot elective choice.
Chef Rebecca Erasmus known to her students as Chef Nimmi is originally from Salmon Arm and this summer, she returned to her roots to take over the Culinary Arts Program from retiring chef Alex Varga. After completing her Red Seal and degree in hotel and business management at SAIT in 2005, Chef’s culinary adventures took her around the world including opening two restaurants in the UK and a stint as leading the Culinary Arts Program at the Pacific Academy in the Lower Mainland where she developed her passion for teaching.
Chef Nimmi’s hopes to change the perspective about the industry with special attention to her female charges by teaching them that becoming a chef is a viable and honourable career. She is also passionate about using fresh and local ingredients and teaching her students the value of using the very best available and that healthy eating is also delicious. Chef has implemented partnerships with local farmers to bring seasonal ingredients into her kitchen and in the spring, the students will be planting their own garden learning firsthand what Farm to Table means.
SAEDS is operating on a quarter system this year which means Chef Nimmi trains four sets of students not only to bake and cook but to learn all the components of restaurant management including running the school cafe where they learn cash management, plan menus, develop amazing plating skills and regularly sell out of their freshly prepared selections.
Her vision for the future once school is back to “normal” is to see her students complete in culinary competitions such as Skills Canada, a national competition where students cook dishes in accordance with established trade rules and standards and showcase the trade through competition and the demonstration of new culinary trends and techniques. While Covid for now restricts the public from access to the delicious food we see posted regularly on their Instagram page @sasculinaryarts, she hopes to extend their program to the community as soon as is feasible and just this week they are slowly introducing a new catering service. Service and giving back is the foundation of Chef Nimmi’s program and she’s instilling that in her students every day.
Taste of the Shuswap asked Principal Rob Cadden about Chef and he had this to say, ““Due to her tremendous work ethic and contagious passion for food and bettering the lives of youth, Chef Nimmi Erasmus has taken over the SAS Culinary Arts program and we couldn’t be more proud of the transformations taking place in our cafeteria, utilizing local and healthy food options to teach and inspire the next generation of cooks and chefs.”
We whole heartedly agree and rumour has it that after she completes her teaching credentials (yes she is also taking classes while working full time!), there could be a new business in town and you know that her young employees will be top notch!
If you’re looking for a caterer for your lunch or event, contact the school at firstname.lastname@example.org. You won’t be disappointed!