Teaching, mentoring and connecting in the Cook Apprentice program

If you’ve been near the Cornerstone Dining Room on the west side of RDC’s main campus, chances are you’ve seen Garnett Schoettler and Patrick Bauer. The two Red Seal Chefs have a unique history, one that started as teacher and student, and they prove each day that Red Deer College really does have your back.

As the instructor for the Cook Apprentice program, Garnett has been the face of the program for more than five years, teaching students in all three apprenticeship levels. Patrick was one of Garnett’s students, starting his apprenticeship in the fall of 2012, and then becoming a staff member in the Cook program just two years later.

“We have an Operations Assistant as part of the Cook Apprentice program, and the job is 15 hours per week, so it’s perfect for a student,” Garnett explains. While there was a student in this role for one year, Garnett was looking for a new person to fill the position for the 2014-15 school year. “When I looked at my current students to see who had the right skill set to do the job, my number one choice was Patrick.”

The job was a fit for Patrick, as well, and he began in September of 2014, while also completing the third year of the program. The Operations Assistant job allowed Patrick to fulfill his work experience hours for his apprenticeship, while he learned about the administrative and management side of being a chef.

“Purchasing is a big part of my job, and I make sure that the program has all of the food needed for classes and events,” he says. On a day-to-day basis, his focus is on the Cook Apprentice program, but he also helps as needed for other events, such as the recent Sliced Red Deer fundraising event in support of Central Alberta Women’s Outreach Society, which was hosted at RDC.

Patrick received his Journeyman Red Seal as a Cook in June of 2015, but he continued to work for Garnett in the Cook Apprentice program, and he also became an RDC student in the Bachelor of Education and Kinesiology programs. “I’m looking to become a teacher and a coach,” he says, adding that his Operations Assistant job offers the flexibility that makes it possible to work while being a full-time student.

As he combines his Cook background with his new career path in education, Patrick is looking forward to instructing and helping with the Cook courses that will be part of the Series Summer Arts School and Summer Camps offered through RDC’s School of Continuing Education. “This is definitely the best place I’ve ever worked,” he says. “It’s amazing how many people you get to meet and how many different things you get to be a part of.”

For Garnett, who spent 15 years as a chef in industry, including three years as an executive chef at a resort, RDC provided a great opportunity for the next chapter in his life. “I’m in a unique position, since I’m the only teacher for all three years of the Cook program, so I get to see such great transformation in the students during their time at RDC,” he says. “I’m so fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to mentor and form relationships with students – for the years they spend here and beyond.”

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