MasterChef Canada winner Trevor Connie doesn’t look out of place as he leans over a pan of pasta sauce, high school students crowding around him.
After all, it wasn’t that long ago Connie was a student in Seaquam Secondary’s ACE-IT program himself, learning how to cook in this same kitchen.
“This program and [instructor] Chef Boyle were huge, instrumental roles for me when I was these kids’ age,” the North Delta native said.
“I’ve always been into cooking, but in this room is really where I honed my passion,” he continued. “So it’s good to come back and inspire the kids, show them where maybe they could be in 10 years if they stick to it and they follow their passion.”
Students in ACE IT, a trades program that gives students high school credits and apprenticeship training, are moving around the kitchen, hair tied back and white chef coats on.
This past June, Connie won MasterChef Canada, a competition that pits homechefs against each other to win a $100,000 prize.
Teacher Michael Boyle oversees Seaquam’s culinary ACE IT program. He taught Connie 10 years ago, when Connie was a Grade 12 student at the school.
“As a student in here, he was good,” Boyle said. “I think he found something in the kitchen that he liked. Clearly it’s paying off for him.”
Several weeks ago, Connie got in touch with Boyle, inviting the culinary class to a six-course tasting dinner Connie was hosting in Vancouver and inviting himself to teach on Thursday, Oct. 5.
On that day, Connie shared one of his specialties with the students: pasta.
Connie instructed the students on how to make three types of pasta sauce and four different types of pasta noodles — all made from scratch, of course. They also made homemade ricotta cheese.
Grade 12 student Brodie Easdown was stirring the tomato- and meat-based sauce on an industrial-sized stove.
“It’s nice to learn from someone as big as him,” Easdown said.
“It’s a great opportunity from someone that has won a huge contest in Canada.”
For Connie, who currently lives in Edmonton, it was “super special and sentimental” to be back at his old high school.
“It’s really cool to share what I’ve learned over the years with these young kids,” he said.
Boyle didn’t interfere much with Connie’s teaching; he stood off to the side and watched the students separate eggs by hand and measure flour into bowls.
“It’s really outstanding to see him have success,” Boyle said about Connie. “Plus, as I say, it speaks volumes about his character that he wants to come back and share.”