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White Spot has a rich, long history in Vancouver. Nat Bailey opened his landmark restaurant back in 1928 as a diner-style eatery. Although its legendary Triple-O hamburgers are still very much part of White Spot’s mouthwatering menu, the eatery has grown up.
White Spot’s Corporate Training Chef, James Kennedy, Certified Chef de Cuisine opens up about White Spot’s prestigious Red Seal Program and a little about himself in this rare Q & A.
Q) Where did you learn to cook?
I started at my uncle’s fishing camp in Northern Quebec for spending money during high school. I went on to apprentice at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel in Victoria.
Q) Why did you want to become a chef?
I always loved to cook and fell in love with the pace and lifestyle.
Q) How do you describe your cooking style?
French with many Asian influences.
Q) Why did you choose White Spot?
The opportunity to develop the Red Seal Program and to help build a new food culture was too much to pass up.
Q) What are the challenges of bringing food from the kitchen to the mass market?
In our environment guest traffic, high expectations and making sure that the guest experience is the same no matter which of our restaurants you are dining at.
Q) What is the Red Seal training program and how does it work?
This is a three level Cook Apprenticeship recognized by the Industry Training Authority (ITA). We offer Professional Cook 1 (PC1) and Professional Cook 2 to our best cooks at our Culinary Centre here in Vancouver. We are an ITA approved Training Institution. Our successful PC2 graduates go on to complete PC3 and their Inter-provincial Red Seal Certification at Vancouver Community College.
Q) What is the best part of your job?
Every day brings a new experience and a new opportunity to help affect change.
Q) What are some of your culinary achievements that you are most proud of?
Probably opening Lonsdale Quay Hotel back in the day when I was an “under 30” chef and then opening my own cooking school in the Downtown Eastside for at-risk youth. Also cooking for President Bush senior and his wife Barbara on a yacht for a week and hosting Irish President Mary McAleese for a luncheon reception.
Q) What is your favourite restaurant to dine at?
Besides White Spot...It really depends on my mood, but I love Sun Sui Wah (either location) as a good go-to feast location.
Q) What food/dish could you never live without?
All of them. Probably fresh Dungeness Crab would be high on the list.