Silvera and SAIT partner to certify Culinary Arts students

17 March 2023

An innovative partnership program between Silvera and SAIT is having a positive impact on our Dining Services team.

Two of Silvera’s Culinary Supervisors — Sam Tadrous from Spruce and Anil Panwar from Shouldice (pictured above with Chef Simon Dunn of SAIT) — are taking part in the SAIT Weekly Apprenticeship Training Sessions (WATS) program. Launched last fall, the program allows students who have full-time jobs to work toward their Red Seal certification.

Silvera aims to have all Culinary Supervisors Red Seal certified. “This certification is a real asset, because residents benefit from having professional chefs overseeing the preparation of their food, and the employees get to enjoy interesting culinary careers with us,” explains Krista Gerelus, Technical Supervisor, Dining Services.

Through WATS, first-year Red Seal apprentices attend school for one day per week and perform their regular full-time jobs the other four days of the work week.

Silvera is piloting the project with two employees, both of whom are being paid to go to school the one day they are attending.

“This program is a win-win-win situation for everyone involved,” explains Krista. “SAIT gets to pilot a new program, Silvera benefits by having some of our existing employees achieve their Red Seal certification, and the employees have the opportunity to have a great experience while being paid to go to school.”

Culinary Supervisors manage the kitchens at each of our Supportive Living communities, directly supervising the dining teams and programs.

Krista, who is a Red Seal chef, oversees the Dining Services program, and sponsors Sam and Anil – a requirement of the WATS program. She provides them with mentorship and support, answering their questions, encouraging them and helping them apply the skills they’re learning at school in their daily work.

“It is an honour to be one of the pioneers of this program. It is a great opportunity and I really appreciate it,” says Sam. “We work in small groups, share ideas and learn from each other, which has been amazing. It’s a very diverse team.”

The first-year WATS program ends in June, and SAIT, under the leadership of Chef Simon Dunn, is currently planning for the second and third years of the program.

“I’m incredibly proud of Sam and Anil for taking on this new program and for showcasing the incredible skillsets Silvera employees bring to SAIT,” says Krista. “This program really challenges the stigma around what the culinary experience looks like in seniors care communities.”

Krista hopes the program shows prospective employees that there are excellent careers available in the seniors’ care industry for Red Seal chefs.

“We have lot to offer,” she says. “Our chefs prepare inspired dishes for people who appreciate and respect their efforts, and it’s not a typical industry environment. It is a fulfilling place to work, giving back to seniors.”