Holland College Blog

News and views from around the college

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Have Knives – Will Travel: CIC grad jumps into international culinary competition at last minute

leave a comment »

Sean Burton full length

Preparing for an international culinary competition takes weeks, if not months. Developing and perfecting recipes and timing, ensuring that the kitchen is safe and organized, figuring out contingency plans in the event of last-minute hitches — it all takes time, if a chef wants to maximize their chance of winning.

Or not.

Chef Sean Burton, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of Canada’s Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts programs, stepped into the breach and hopped on a plane to Saint Pierre et Miquelon, an overseas collectivity of France located just off the western end of Newfoundland’s Burin Peninsula, with only three days’ notice, to represent the CIC and P.E.I. in a two-day culinary competition – and brought back a silver medal.

Sean was team captain for the CIC in the World Culinary Olympics’ Regional Competition in 2016, which won double gold and placed fourth in the world. He said the Concours Culinaire competition in Saint Pierre et Miquelon was unlike any other. Most of the events he has participated in have been black box competitions in which each team or competitor is provided with a pantry of items, but don’t know what key ingredients they will have to work with until only a few hours before they are expected to present their dishes.

“This competition was based on classical cuisine, so there were very specific dishes that we had to prepare, like souffles. I’ve never done a competition like that before. You need to distinguish your interpretation of the dishes from those of your competitors, you have to re-imagine them,” he said.

The opportunity to compete in the Concours Culinaire came about when the chef who had been preparing for the event had to cancel. Austin Clement, program manager for The Culinary Institute of Canada’s culinary and hospitality programs immediately thought of sending Sean instead.

“Austin asked me if I would be interested in going to France represent P.E.I. in the Concours Culinaire, but I thought he was joking,” Sean recalled.

“By the time we were able to confirm that I was going, we were three days out.”

Chef Austin said he had absolute confidence that Sean was up to the task.

“Sean took on the challenge with just three days’ notice, a case of sharp knives, and his proven ability. After two days of intense competition and the elimination of top competitors from the region, he found himself once again representing PEI and the CIC to the very end. We are proud of his amazing finish. Sean showed the world that our craft is alive and well, and in good hands,” he said.

Unflappable, highly organized, and quietly confident, Sean relished the chance to compete so far outside of his comfort zone.

“It was a whirlwind of excitement and competition that I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to share with my fellow competitors in Saint Pierre Miquelon. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”

After the competition, Sean returned to Charlottetown and his duties as a lab technician for the CIC; but not for long! He is now in China for two months teaching Food Theory and Production to International Hospitality Management students enrolled in the Holland College Educational Joint Venture program.

Gold medal chef prepares culinary delights for golden-agers!

leave a comment »

Submitted by Dorothy Grant

Mandy and medals

The residents who live in Shannex at the Gardens, a swanky retirement home in Halifax, face a significant challenge every day when they pass by a large show case in the dining room

You see, inside it is an array of desserts that visually stimulate the several 1,000 taste buds they all possess.

Most of them know little about Mandy Wingert, the woman responsible for these enticing desserts but they should, because her background includes an impressive record of remarkable culinary achievements.

What is so captivating to learn about her is that when she was only three years old in her grandmother’s kitchen in Regina, Saskatchewan something worthy of a delightful children’s book happened to her.

It seems she had been watching her grandmother prepare a poppy seed strudel, a German traditional treat. But she had left Mandy alone for few minutes to take care of another task and the strudel dough had been left behind. It still needed to be stretched and pulled into a paper-thin consistency.

When her grammy returned, she discovered her little granddaughter had somehow worked her little hands into the dough, finished preparing it for the filling, added the filling and rolled it up ready for baking.

Her grandmother was astonished and declared, “How did you ever know how to do that?”

According to Mandy, her grandmother told her the strudel was wonderful when it was baked!

Jokingly, she now likes to say, “I played chef as a child.” She does acknowledge that it wasn’t long before she recognized that it was her destiny to become a real chief and that’s what she has achieved!

She was only a teenager when she was first exposed to the harsh realities of the culinary profession. This occurred when she apprenticed for four years at a restaurant known as the Mediterranean Bistro in Regina.

At the time, people who worked beside her were intrigued by her obvious determination, despite working in a restaurant where, at first, she did basic tasks such as peeling vegetables. But this didn’t discourage her!

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a culinary college in Saskatchewan but, after doing some research, Wingert discovered information about The Culinary Institute of Canada in Prince Edward Island.

“It caught my attention when I learned it was widely regarded as Canada’s premier culinary school and that it was located in Holland College‘s Tourism and Culinary Centre on the Charlottetown waterfront. Best of all, she was pleased to learn that it attracts students from all over the world

Soon she applied to become a student there and early in 2004, she was accepted. Happily, her province awarded her a scholarship

As a young student, she quickly recognized that the college offered a truly unique learning opportunity. It gave her great insight into why cooking has been described as both a science and an art.

It wasn’t long before Wingert was demonstrating that she possessed the kind of skills necessary to transform food into mouth-watering creations.

This became even more obvious during her years at the college, where she first earned her Culinary Arts diploma and a year later, her Pastry Arts certificate.

To say the least, those three years at the college were extraordinary experiences for her. During this time, as part of Culinary Youth Team Canada, she and a team mate won four gold medals, a silver, and two Best of the Show awards at a culinary competition in in Grand Falls, Michigan.

But there were even more impressive accolades to come.

alex and mandy

Student chefs Alex Haun and Mandy Wingert toast their success at The Nations Cup in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The two Holland College Culinary Institute of Canada students represented the country at the prestigious competition, winning a clutch of gold, silver and bronze medals along with two Best in Show awards.

As captain of Culinary Youth Team Canada, she travelled to several countries including Wales, where her team won a bronze medal. Later, in Scotland, after four days of fierce competition, they were named the World Grand Prix Champions of 2007.

Their next destination was Erfurt, Germany in October 2008 for the Culinary Olympics.

For Wingert, this was an awesome competition because it was the biggest culinary exhibition in the world, with 54 nations and 1,600 chefs involved. Competition is stiff, and the days of preparation in advance of the competition acclimatizing themselves to a new kitchen were demanding.

Wingert describes the grueling events that lasted for five days.

“Often our working days were almost 18 hours long. To add to our stress, intimidating judges from countries all around the world would frequently “invade” the enclosed kitchen-like area where we were feverishly working.”

“Speechless, the judges would meticulously ‘scrutinize’ us performing arduous culinary tasks, which included, during a designated time period, preparing a three-course splendid and visually appealing meal for 150 people.”

She discloses that it was both physically and emotionally exhausting but, insists, it was so rewarding to win a gold and silver medal, especially when they were competing against 50 different countries from around the world!

Hans Anderegg, who is a chef instructor at Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada and the team coach, was obviously very pleased with Mandy’s performance as captain of the culinary Olympic team.

“She was an exceptional team leader. Her enthusiasm and work ethic really helped pull the team together,” he says.

Wingert, like other culinary graduates, has had to face the prospect of dealing with the complex issues associated with working as a chef at a very busy location.

For a short time, she worked at a famous British restaurant known as the Fat Duck. There are reports that Prince William and his wife Kate have dined there.

She also encountered a rather unsetting scenario when someone had promised her a top-rated job at a very good restaurant in Wales, but it didn’t work out.

After returning to Canada, she acquired two Red Seals in both cooking and baking. The Red Seal is a prestigious, nationally recognized designation recognizing broad culinary knowledge, skill, and years of experience.

She was really thrilled when, in 2010, she spent seven months at the Canadian Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo.  She was delighted with the unique experience she gained there

After exploring several options that clearly were appropriate for her outstanding culinary qualifications, Wingert decided to move to Halifax in 2011. She worked, for a short time at a well-known hotel in the city.

A colleague at that hotel, who soon truly admired her remarkable culinary skills and especially her delectable desserts, one day made a fascinating suggestion.

He told her that he was convinced she should apply for a pastry chef’s position at Shannex at the Gardens. Intrigued, she did, and has now been on its staff for five years

There are, of course, some individuals who may ask if working at a residence where seniors live wouldn’t be a rather dull environment for a dynamic young woman like her.

She immediately dismisses this kind of thinking.

“In fact, I have found it very rewarding here, especially as many of the residents, like Paul and Ruth Ann Collins, a lovely couple who lived here for a few years, often tell me how much they have enjoyed my desserts.”

Such very positive comments, she insists, are almost as rewarding as having a medal hung around her neck!

About the author
Dorothy Grant worked as a registered nurse in Halifax and New York, and later turned to journalism. With consumer affairs as her beat, she became a Halifax radio and TV personality. In the 1990s, she did communications work for the Medical Society of Nova Scotia, and at the same time she published more than 60 articles in the Medical Post. Her byline is familiar to readers of Family Practice Magazine, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the Halifax Chronicle-Herald.





Written by Sara Underwood

August 28, 2018 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Building an ice boat replica becomes a labour of love for Heritage Retrofit Carpentry students

leave a comment »


Students in the Heritage Retrofit Carpentry program work on many unique projects, designing authentic corbels, for example, or rebuilding century-old window frames. Each undertaking has its own attraction, and each provides the students with the opportunity to put the skills that they have been learning into action in the real world. But every once in while a project comes along that resonates so strongly with students that it moves beyond the satisfaction of applying their newly-acquired skills.

For students Logan Bonneville and Kelly Caseley, building a replica of an ice boat became a labour of love.

Today, ice boats are light-weight vessels with skis or runners and sails that catch the wind and reach incredible speeds on ice. In the 1800s and early 1900s, they were neither graceful nor speedy, but they were a vital form of transportation between Prince Edward Island and the mainland in the winter.

Ice boats were used to carry mail and passengers across the Northumberland Strait from about 1827 to 1917. They continued to run in the mid-winter months even after steamers were in service if the steamers could not get through the ice.

The boats weren’t very large – about 15 feet long and 6 feet wide – and were fitted with runners and straps for hauling them across the ice. Each boat had a crew of four who rowed in the open water and pulled the boat over the ice floes. Male passengers were charged $3, with a $1 discount if they help haul the boat over the ice. The fare for women and children was $2.

It’s not hard to imagine that the trip across could be grueling. Just a few hundred feet from the shore the boat could be enveloped in a snow storm, the crew could become disorientated, or weather conditions could force them to turn back.

It took teamwork to get the boats across the ice, and it took team work for the Heritage Retrofit Carpentry students to build the replica.

Logan and Kelly spent hours working on the replica, including hundreds of hours in the evenings and on weekends, and mustered a team of students to help them.

The replica was launched June 30th as part of the Cape Traverse Ice Boat Festival and will become part of the national monument in that community, commemorating the contributions of the ice boats and their crews.

The project was a partnership between Parks Canada, the Cape Traverse Ice Boat Committee, and Holland College.

See an interview with Logan on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/HollandCollege/videos/10156414567638334/

You can read more about ice boats here:

And you can read a chilling poem written by a crewman about a perilous trip across the strait here:

The Cape Traverse Ice Boat Committee has a Facebook page:


Written by Sara Underwood

July 5, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

CPKN develops training portal in anticipation of cannabis legislation

leave a comment »


Sandy and JKN crew

CPKN president Sandy Sweet looks over the development of the training modules with Evan Jackson and Chris MacEachern (left). Both Jackson and MacEachern are Holland College graduates. Photo: Sidney Reid.

The Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) is developing a training portal for use by front-line law enforcement officers across the country.

CPKN, which is based in Charlottetown, was created in 2004 through a partnership between Holland College and the Canadian police Community.

The training portal features three courses related to the incoming Cannabis Act, Bill C-45, which will lay out the regulations regarding legal use of cannabis in Canada.

Sandy Sweet, president of CPKN, said the portal will provide police services with a cost-effective way to deliver training to their personnel by using the resources online, eliminating the expenses related to traveling to receive training and allowing officers to take the training at times convenient to them.

Screen shot.PNG“The three courses will provide law enforcement officers with the information that they will need when Bill C-45 is enacted,” Sweet said, noting that the federal government has not yet confirmed when the bill will come into effect. It is expected in late summer or early fall.

“We are preparing as much information in advance of the roll-out of the legislation as possible, but we know that we will need to tweak the courses depending on any alterations that may be made to the Act before it comes into force.”

CPKN will customize the training according to the laws in each jurisdiction and will consult with each province and territory in advance of the legislation to ensure that all law enforcement professionals will receive information applicable to their particular area.

CPKN is also consulting with the RCMP and Canadian Association of Police Chiefs to ensure that all of the training available to law enforcement officers is consistent and accurate regardless of which organization is delivering it.

In addition to the courses, the CPKN portal will provide case studies as they develop following implementation of the Act, an Ask an Expert section, and other resources related to Bill C-45.

“The implementation of Bill C-45 is one of the most significant legislative changes in Canada and is bound to create concern on the front lines about how to enforce the new laws. Our goal is to provide the information law enforcement professionals need in a timely and cost-effective manner,” Sweet said.

For more information about CPKN visit www.cpkn.ca.

Holland College student wins Atlantic Journalism Award

with one comment

Alison Jenkins copyBy Wayne Young
Alison Jenkins, a student in the Journalism program at Holland College, has earned an Atlantic Journalism Award for her outstanding work in class and in three Maritime newsrooms.

The Brookvale, P.E.I., resident graduates May 18 but she has already been hired by Brunswick News to work as a summer intern at The Telegraph-Journal newspaper in Saint John. She completed a four-week practicum at that newspaper in March.

In her first year, Jenkins interned at CBC Charlottetown and last fall, she was one of two students in her class to take part in day internships at The Guardian in Charlottetown.

The Journalism program instructors are Rick MacLean, Wayne Young, and Lindsay Carroll. MacLean said it was obvious from very early on that Alison’s maturity would serve her well in this program.

“She was determined to learn as much as she possibly could, working tremendously hard to learn how to tell a story and how to use video to do that.

“As expected, when she went to her second-year, four-week internship she so impressed her supervisors at the Telegraph Journal they asked her to accept a summer spot immediately after.”

The student winners will be presented with awards in their home provinces in May.

The AJA’s gala dinner and awards show will take place on April 28 at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel in Halifax, N.S.




Culinary Youth Team Canada brings home gold and silver from Nations Cup

leave a comment »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Culinary Youth Team Canada members Isabelle Chevarie and Tracy Wildrick participated in three days of intense competition at the 2017 Nations Cup in Grand Rapids Michigan recently, and were rewarded with four gold, including a Best of Show award for their appetizer, and three silver medals for their efforts.

Isabelle is no stranger to competition, she was part of the team Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada (CIC) sent to Erfurt, Germany last fall; but for Tracy Wildrick, the Nations Cup was an eye-opener.

I realized that it doesn’t matter how amazing a cook you are, it’s the team and instructors that win these kinds of things, not an individual,” he said.

The young chefs trained under the watchful eye of Chef Instructor Hans Anderegg for weeks in Team Canada’s new training kitchen in the Tourism and Culinary Centre on the Charlottetown waterfront to prepare for this high profile black box competition, but there are some circumstances for which you can never be prepared – like when you’re handed a bucket of live trout.

“We had a hard time getting them out of the bucket,” Isabelle laughed, “the first one slipped out of my hands and under a table.”

All’s well that ends well, though, and the trout ended up pan seared and served with a potato pavé that featured a layer of blue potatoes, earning the team a gold medal.

The students competed against teams from the U.S.A., Barbados, Mexico, Italy, and Scotland. Chef Hans said that culinary competitions such as the Nation’s Cup bear little resemblance to the cut-throat approach so familiar to fans of reality TV cooking shows. Isabelle agreed.

“There’s a lot of pressure, but there’s a lot of camaraderie, too,” she explained. “We may not speak the same language, but we still manage to communicate through food.”

Students from CIC will represent the country at international competitions as National Culinary Youth Team Canada. The CIC was awarded the honour following their exceptional performance at the 2016 Culinary Olympics in Erfurt. Rather than representing the country and competing against other junior chefs, they competed against experienced professional chefs as Regional Team PEI, bringing home two gold medals and placing fourth overall out of 57 teams. In 2012, the team brought home a gold and silver medal as Regional Team PEI.

As the team adds members, practices will ramp up. Right now, they are practicing about 14 hours a week, but by the time January rolls around, they’ll be in the kitchens at least 40 hours a week, sometimes more. Over the next couple of years, they will represent Canada in several competitions all over the world, leading up to the ultimate competition, the Culinary Olympics, in Stuttgart, Germany in February of 2020.

Team Canada Results
Fish/ Shellfish: Gold
Game: Gold
Appetizer: Gold (Best of Show)
National Dish: Gold
Pasta: Silver
Poultry: Silver
Dessert: Silver

Overall Results
Team USA             6 Gold 1 Silver Winner 2017 Nations Cup
Team Canada       4 Gold 3 Silver
Team Barbados   4 Gold 3 Silver
Team Mexico       3 Gold 4 Silver
Team Italy            2 Gold 3 Silver 2 Bronze
Team Scotland    2 Gold 2 Silver 3 Bronze



Welding students create memorial tree for Lorne Valley Cemetery

leave a comment »

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Students in Holland College’s Welding Fabrication program have worked on a variety of projects over the years, some functional, and others more artistic. Most recently they created a unique memorial piece at the request of a group of local residents.

The memorial, a large aluminum tree, is intended to remember loved ones who are buried off-Island.

Debbie MacDonald explained what the group was looking for.

“So many Islanders leave the province never to return, but still feel a close connection. I felt the tree is a way for them to be remembered if they were not buried here. When the idea arose, a relative suggested Holland College could probably make it. The instructor, Craig Boudreau, and his students were open to the challenge and did a superb job. They were most accessible for any of us who wanted to see the tree as it was being manufactured,” she said.

Welding Fabrication instructor Craig Boudreau said manufacturing the tree gave his students the opportunity to hone their skills while working on an unconventional project.

“The students enjoy working on projects that present challenges, and this was certainly in that category,” he said. “There were so many interesting angles and the project required a great deal of precision.”

The tree was installed in the spring when an inaugural ceremony was held. There are several plaques on the tree now, each bearing the name and dates for Islanders buried elsewhere. There will be a service once a year to recognize the people whose names have been added over the previous 12 months.

Debbie MacDonald is grateful for the work the welding students undertook to make the tree, which will be a lasting legacy in the cemetery.

“We wish the Welding Fabrication students the best as they go forward with their future endeavours, and thank each of the students for their participation in this project. The Memorial Tree means a lot to all the families represented there now, and will continue to provide a place for families to pay tribute to their loved ones in the future. Thank you so much!”

Written by Sara Underwood

October 20, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Destiny and the monks

with 2 comments

DestinyBestDestiny Best has always been interested in singing in different languages. As a child in the Toronto Children’s Chorus she sang in approximately 15 languages, and as a student in Holland College’s Music Performance program, she sang in Italian, performing Nessun Dorma from Puccini’s Turandot during the opening gala of the Florence Simmons Performance Hall.

But this time, she’s taken on not only a different language but an entirely different musical style – singing Buddhist sacred music in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Mandarin for an EP in collaboration with the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS).

Destiny met some of the monks this past May, during an open house at the GEBIS centre, located in Little Sands, Prince Edward Island. After discussing her interest in music with the monastery’s executive secretary, Geoffrey Yang, he proposed an interesting project: to record more than 800 songs of praise composed by the group’s leader, Master Zhen-Ru.

Destiny is provided with a recording of the songs, along with a Romanization of the lyrics, and instrumental tracks recorded by members of the Dream Lotus Symphony Orchestra. So far, Destiny has recorded four of the songs, which you can hear on the EP Do It With All Your Heart, along with a Mandarin version of Brahms’ Lullaby:  https://destinybest.bandcamp.com/album/do-it-with-all-your-heart.

Plans are in the works to develop a video of one of the songs.


Written by Sara Underwood

May 1, 2017 at 2:34 pm

Local chef provides students with hands-on restaurant experience through Transitions program

leave a comment »

Summerside, PE – Chef Craig O’Neill at Brothers Two restaurant in Summerside has been a strong supporter of Holland College’s Transitions program for the past two years. The Transitions program’s main objective is to help senior high school students make informed decisions about their post-secondary education. Transitions mentors seek experiential learning opportunities for students in a wide variety of workplaces.

Chef Craig has been an enthusiastic partner, helping students and sharing his passion for his trade. He brings students into the restaurant, giving them hands-on learning opportunities.

He sees the value to giving high school students the opportunity to find out more about potential career paths.

“I truly feel the Transitions program is important for a lot of students, and if I had a program like this when I was younger maybe I would have fallen in love with my chosen career much sooner,” he said. The students always have an amazing time and find it to be one of their favorite experiences during the program.

Chef Craig is no ordinary cook. Not only is he an amazing chef, but when you meet him you can see how much he cares about his community. He is currently working toward his Red Seal as an apprentice at Brothers Two restaurant, and his genuine commitment to his culinary career is always appreciated by the students and has sparked the interest of some to pursue the culinary program after graduation.  Chef Craig always encourages students to be the best they can be, regardless what career path they follow.

Joan Diamond, Transitions program coordinator says Chef Craig’s enthusiasm, work ethic, and desire to share his knowledge with others are exemplary.

“Craig O’Neill is a perfect example of how one person can influence many. In this day and age, with so many careers possibilities, Craig’s contribution and that of Brothers Two Restaurant in Summerside make the world of difference to our students.”

For more information about the Transitions program, visit http://www.hollandcollege.com/transitions, or call Joan Diamond at (902) 629-4248. – Submitted by Jillian Jeffrey, Transitions mentor.

Written by Sara Underwood

April 3, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Students, Uncategorized

Want to keep in touch with Holland College? There’s an app for that!

leave a comment »

app-iconBy Trish Johnston
The Office of Alumni Relations recently launched Holland College’s first mobile app. The app was designed to keep more than 35,000 alumni connected to the college and to each other.

The app, which was developed by students from the Computer Information Systems (CIS) program, provides alumni with regular updates from the college and connections to other alumni through social media. Accessing Benchmark, the Holland College Foundation magazine, staying current on the Hurricanes Athletics news, and even making a gift to the school, are now easier than ever. Alumni can also register through the app for an electronic version of their alumni card – a card that every graduate should have as the benefits continue to grow.

BJ MacLean, Learning Manager for the CIS program, headed the project in partnership with the Office of Alumni Relations.



(Left – Right) CIS instructor B.J. MacLean discussing the app with CIS students Kyle Newcombe and Chris Signouin.

“There was a lot of learning involved, but it provided a great opportunity for us to explore this specific technology and go through the software development lifecycle,” said MacLean.

Second-year CIS students Kyle Newcombe and Chris Signouin took on the project under the guidance of MacLean.

“The technology that we used allowed us to develop the app quickly. That said, it was new to us, so we had to do a lot of research, and it didn’t always go smoothly,” said Newcombe. This project has taught me a lot of things, but mainly how important communication is,” said MacLean, noting that Kyle and Chris were highly self-motivated and were able to take on the project as a challenge.

“I was impressed with their ability to learn what was needed to successfully develop a product that met the Office of Alumni Relations’ needs. I am sure they will have ideas to improve and grow the app, which could lead to an enhancement release for students to work on next year,” said MacLean.

“Now that they’ve graduated, Kyle and Chris are moving ahead with their careers as developers, but there will be new students who will benefit from the challenge going forward.”

Sigouin added, “I hope that other students will take the opportunity to build on the app. It was a great experience to work as a team and create something that will benefit others. And, as a new alumnus myself, I appreciate having quicker access to information as well as the convenience of having the alumni card at my fingertips!”

Although developed primarily for alumni, the Office of Alumni Relations encourages anyone who would like to stay connected with Holland College to download the app which is available free of charge on both iOS (iPhone operating system) and Android platforms by searching “Holland College Alumni”