If you’ve enjoyed a good meal out on the town in the last few decades in Barrie, there’s a good chance it somehow got to your plate thanks to Georgian College.
Under the umbrella of the hospitality, tourism and recreation department, over many, many years culinary students have honed their skills and made their way into the industry.
And then made someone’s dining experience special.
“It’s a service industry,” Georgian College baking and pastry arts instructor Josie Bancheri tells BarrieToday of the restaurant business. “But it also brings people a little bit of happiness I think.”
Bancheri, a baking and pastry arts instructor, has been at Georgian for three years after plying her craft else where.
“I had an opportunity to teach here and I took it. The people are so friendly. It’s the atmosphere really and it’s a great place to work," she says. “That’s what drew me to the college.”
Her students study traditional and contemporary baking methods with a hands-on approach, including the basics of pastry, cake decorating and contemporary dessert plating. There is also work in baking theory, nutrition, trade calculations, sanitation, food safety and business concepts to support skills used in the daily operation of a bakery. The whole enchilada, so to speak.
From there, along with other studies, the world is their oyster.
“There are all kinds of different avenues they can take,” Bancheri says of her students’ choices.
“Once they graduate they can either work in the field, like at a bakery or specialty cake shops, things of that nature, or to large-scale production where they do things like mass-quantity breads and things,” she says. “They can work in restaurants doing desserts.
“Or they can even start their own business. A lot of them have done that. They sell baked goods and specialty cakes and such,” Bancheri adds. “There have been a lot of culinary and baking grads who are working in town and serving the community.”
Bancheri says students come from various backgrounds — some of them are mature students looking for a second career — and a lot of them are international students.
“They want a different opportunity and to see how we do things here,” she says. “It gives them a different perspective on how they do things back in their own country. They either stay here in Canada or go back with the knowledge they gained here.
“Locally, we’ve even had students whose families owned farms up north and they wanted that culinary knowledge to create and grow their own businesses.”
Her own background includes wedding cakes and specialty cakes, and Bancheri has also been a contestant in televised baking competitions.
“If I create a cake for someone it’s not just making the cake, it’s about giving them an experience,” she says. “When I teach, I kind of do the same thing. I’m giving the students an experience.
“When you’re eating a pastry, you’re not sad. It makes people happy. You’re giving someone something to look forward to at the end of their meal and you’re giving a little bit of joy to someone.”