Ask anyone in the culinary industry, and you’ll hear that kitchens can be hectic, stressful, and even unorganized. Chaos can rule when the lunch rush arrives. However, something good is cooking at Calgary Academy’s Castle Café—and it isn’t just the food.
Chef Colleen Brown and the Castle Café team run a kitchen based on trust, respect, and a passion for cooking.
Meet Colleen Brown
Chef Brown has a storied history in the culinary arts, including experience in the catering industry and working and teaching at previous schools. With Red Seal certification signifying her skill, she began her latest role, Executive Chef of the Castle Café, a few months ago.
Seeing the smile on someone’s face after trying the Castle Café’s creamy avgolemono (Greek chicken and rice) soup or crispy chicken salad warms the heart, but what really makes Chef Brown smile is the enthusiasm students have for her team’s cooking.
“The biggest thing for me is when kids are practically running to get into the Castle Café lineup because they’re so excited for the food. That to me means a lot more than someone just enjoying my food.” – Chef Brown
It’s no surprise kids are running for lunches at the Castle Café when you’re aware of the process for choosing and preparing the menu items each month. Chef Brown and her team seek out nutritious meals from around the world, each taking plenty of prep time. Their famous butter chicken marinates for days before it’s cooked, helping bring out the rich, savoury flavours—with a little kick of spice.
“There are a lot of different culturally balanced foods that are quite healthy. It’s a pleasure to bring in any international menu items.” – Chef Brown
The Castle Café Is a Foundational Piece of Calgary Academy
It can be easy to dismiss food as just “something you eat,” but it’s so much more, whether in someone’s culture or community. For many students, it’s a way to connect and build relationships over a hot meal.
These relationships are ever-present at the Castle Café, especially in the kitchen. Sous Chef Valeria Truchon describes the kitchen as a place of collaboration. The team can find the food they’re currently obsessed with and incorporate them into menu items for students and staff.
“There are always new trends in cooking, there’s something new every year. It’s really fun to come in and say: ‘Hey, let’s try this. What do we need?’”
For Chefs Brown, Truchon, and Food Services Assistant Charlene Stuckert, their relationships with students are just as important as the ones between them. From the smiles, appreciation, and occasional jokes, lunchtime is a special place at Calgary Academy, something Chef Truchon agrees with.
“Everything can be going wrong, and then one of the students says something hilarious that brightens your entire day.” – Chef Truchon
Chef Brown and the rest of the Castle Café hope to continue creating nutritious, delicious foods for the CA community. She explains that they’re always looking for ideas with the menu, following the trends students have in food.
The Castle Café menu is always changing, so keep to date by visiting the CA website. Learn more about what Chef Brown and her team are serving now, what to expect for the upcoming month, and pricing information.