SAIT student wins the hearts and stomachs of Silvera residents during practicum

11 August 2023

When SAIT culinary arts student Scott Martin heard a member of Silvera’s Dining Services team speak at a school event this spring, he knew he wanted to work at a seniors’ organization.

“I’ve worked for non-profit organizations in the past and wanted to find another way to continue with that in a different role,” Scott explains. “I wanted to give back and see the results daily, to develop personal relationships with and get feedback from residents.”

Students in SAIT’s professional cooking program are responsible for finding their own practicum semester once they are finished their first year of schooling. Scott approached Silvera’s Krista Gerelus, Technical Advisor, Dining, after he heard her speak on a panel of chefs from different industries and asked her if there was an opportunity for him at Silvera.

“I partnered closely with our HR department to come up with an opportunity for Scott to join us to gain his hours, and, in turn, he was able to bring his learnings from SAIT to our kitchen team. It’s really such a great partnership,” says Krista.

Under the supervision of Chef John Pullan at Bow Valley Commons, Scott helped create a menu of freshly made, from-scratch meals for residents. The feedback he received from residents was encouraging.

“I was blown away – residents would stop me in the hallway to say thank you and to keep it up,” he says.

Working in a seniors’ residence is a very different atmosphere than a restaurant, Scott says, where “you create a dish for someone and then never see that person again. Here, you develop relationships with people and serve them repeatedly. You get truly honest feedback, which I like.”

Some people view food in seniors’ residences as not great, he says. “I saw a practicum at Silvera as an opportunity to prove those people wrong,” Scott says. “Chef John and I have many of the same views and ideals about food, and together we created some great, fresh meals for residents.”

Before starting at SAIT, Scott worked at the Calgary Drop-In Centre, the SHARP Foundation, and CBI Health in aid/social work roles. He loves to travel, and a huge part of the travel experience for him revolves around cuisine. He eventually wants to earn his Red Seal Chef certification before travelling and working internationally.

Down the road, he has also considered creating a restaurant or some kind of food service for vulnerable populations. “I want to teach people how to cook so they understand anyone can make low-cost, good meals.”

For Scott, it’s important to put his heart into his work. “You have to prepare food with the mindset that this is showing care and love, the people eating your food are not just faceless customers.”

In September, Scott will return to SAIT to complete the second year of his program, which will see him working in one of SAIT’s restaurants. First, he’s headed to Canada’s East Coast on a food tour.

“Scott’s success at Bow Valley Commons opens the door for Silvera to offer this opportunity to other SAIT culinary students,” says Krista. “I look forward to seeing how we can continue the practicum student partnership program moving forward.”

Photo: Sharon Milanko, Community Manager, Bow Valley Commons; Krista Gerelus, Technical Advisor, Dining; Scott Martin, practicum student; John Pullan, Culinary Supervisor