Food for Thought

by By Alexandra Lucchesi

photography by Ontario College of Trade/Kris Caetano

It wasn’t just thriving careers in culinary design that brought York University grads Ryan Whibbs (MA ’07 and PhD ’15) and Mark Holmes (PhD ’14) together. It was also their York education and entrepreneurial desire to share their knowledge with chefs and business people alike. The result? They’ve created a unique new program for the George Brown College Chef School where they both teach.

The Honours Bachelor of Commerce in Culinary Management program is the first of its kind in Canada. Scheduled to start in September, it will provide students with the culinary skills and business acumen needed to succeed in today’s food industry.

While enrolled in an apprenticeship program before he began his university education, Whibbs was hired as a cook at Kylemore Abbey in Galway, Ireland – one of the island’s most popular tourist destinations. The following summer, he worked as a cook at the historic Chatsworth House in Bakewell, England. His international work also included stints in Scotland and France, experiences that eventually led to his studies at York, focusing on the history of food and the shifts in cooking styles throughout time.

Holmes spent several years working in full-service restaurants – including roles as a cook at The Keg, a shift manager at Wendy’s and a line staff at Little Caesars – while completing his bachelor of commerce in hospitality and tourism management at Ryerson University. As part of his doctorate in environmental studies at York, his dissertation examined Niagara’s wine industry.

Whibbs and Holmes both feel York positioned them well to develop new approaches to the restaurant industry and the culinary arts, and played an important role in preparing them for non-traditional employment paths.

“York’s willingness to embrace new, unique and unusual research topics – food and wine included – was key to providing a platform for us to harness our interests into something that was needed within the culinary education setting and the wider food service industry,” says Whibbs.

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