Four students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder will graduate from SAIT Polytechnic and embark on a journey into the culinary arts career. Three of the students are joining Montana's and one to Chartwells.
They received training for a 15-week period, and this kitchen education was a partnership between the Society for Treatment of Autism, a post-secondary institution, and The Ability Hub, an organisation that provide students the opportunity to join the industry as prep cooks and start a career by embracing their strengths.
Instructor Andreas Pabst said that the students have been prepared for the role as a prep cook and that the career is in high demand as most people in the industry are hiring for entry-level positions which provides support to the chef. He added that the position is as important as any higher one.
The focus areas of the program are repetition and consistency. The students learnt kitchen safety and knife skills as well.
The graduation program is to happen on Aug 14. Colin Bradford is one of the graduates who has been hired to work at a restaurant of Montana's Cookhouse. He said that learning is a good skill as it allows one to advance in their career. He considers this a beginning and is eager to start his work. He wants to save money from his pay cheques to pay for his travel for his sister's wedding happening in Mexico.
The president of Big Sky Hospitality, Mo Aladin, explained that the graduates will be welcome additions to the restaurants. His team is going to hire three students from the program and train them and get them into the restaurants. He added that since Alberta faces employment issues, hiring staff is a critical process.
Mo said that they have several staff who have disabilities and they work well by being loyal and hardworking. He explained that the employing of graduates is not a charity act, and it is only about getting people who will be loyal, hardworking and punctual.