CA Culinary Arts: Finding Passion in Cooking

January 30, 2024 4 min read

Something is cooking in Calgary Academy’s Castle Café, and it isn’t just the delicious food. The school is preparing to launch two new Integrated Studies (IS) courses taught by the café’s head chef—Colleen Brown.

Starting next year, students will eventually step into the kitchen to learn essential cooking skills in a new, renovated space.

A Summer of Renovations

The Castle Café has been even more popular since Chef Brown joined the school—balancing its menu with healthy soups, savoury perogies, crisp salads, and some of CA students’ favourite meals (pizza day is a highlight of the school week).

Chef Brown has been interested in the instructional side of cooking for years but never felt like she had the time to pursue this option until coming to Calgary Academy. With the popularity of the Castle Café skyrocketing and Chef Brown’s desire to teach—the kitchen needed a renovation.

“Calgary Academy has wanted a foods and culinary arts program for quite some time… This is a two-tiered renovation. First, to keep up with the increased demand this year, then a classroom next to the kitchen to set up the culinary arts program.” – Chef Brown

Many renovations happened in the kitchen this past summer. A new dry storage area, burners, a broiler, and a deep fryer are available for the Castle Café team to use for daily lunches for students and staff.

With new equipment and more space to operate, Chef Brown is excited for the kitchen’s future.

“We’re keeping our menu simple this year but bringing in a few more international items for the winter… Next year, when the foods and culinary arts programs open, you’ll almost see entirely different menus.”

Bringing the Castle Café to the Classroom

Starting next school year, Calgary Academy will begin offering new IS courses for Senior School students: foods and culinary arts.

Chef Brown believes the classes offer students a chance to learn essential life skills and potentially see a future for themselves in the culinary world. As students progress from the introductory to intermediate and advanced classes, they’ll learn more about how a professional kitchen operates.

“We’ll transform the classroom into a prep space and baking station where introductory students will learn. The intermediate and advanced students will use the kitchen space to learn how a commercial kitchen runs.”

The school’s newest IS course fits in with the various classes students can take—all designed to spark passion and interest in students.

CA Principal Tim Carlson has had requests for a food-focused course at the school for years and is thrilled to see one come to fruition.

“Foods has been a desired program at Calgary Academy for many years, and we haven’t been able to launch it operationally until now. There’s a desire from students to learn effective cooking, which can maybe spark a life-long passion.” – Mr. Carlson

Like other IS classes, this program will provide students with hands-on learning where they can see the results of their hard work. As the program evolves, Chef Brown hopes to have intermediate and advanced culinary arts students help prepare lunch service in the Castle Café.

She believes culinary arts provide students with a sense of accomplishment, whether it’s learning knife skills, understanding the major components of a recipe, or preparing meals for their classmates. Even if students don’t see a future career in the industry, they can develop valuable lessons. In Chef Brown’s words, “at the very least, students can learn a life skill.”

As the school gets ready for the implementation of foods and culinary arts, the Castle Café team is excited to use their new equipment to continue offering nutritious meals, including some delicious new menu items in the future. Stay tuned for more information on the foods and culinary arts programs—coming next school year.