Gabe: Hi my name Gabe Evenden, I’m a chef to be. I’m doing my level-one now, and I love what I do.
Damon: (Laughs) Yeah?
Gabe: I love what I do.
Damon: I hear you’re pretty young?
Gabe: Oh yeah, I’m the youngest in the class for sure. I’m 17, and still in grade 12.
Damon: You’re still in highschool?
Gabe: Yeah, I go back every Friday and most days of the week to get that all done. I heard about this opportunity from my coordinator, who told me that coming to CNC and doing my level one was an option for me. I was initially going to go into welding, but he pushed me away from it, ‘don’t do that, you’ve always wanted to be a cook. Here’s your chance.”
Damon: So what do you think? You’re in a unique case, how is that going for you?
Gabe: It’s been awesome, coming to the college and focusing on something that you want to do it incredible. It’s great that I can come here and do something I love to do, and its work! It’s a blast, I have fun every day. It’s not a job.
Damon: That’s awesome. So let’s get down to some of your grass roots, where are you from?
Gabe: I was born here, actually. My family originates from the Ontario area, and are Cree!
Damon: So you identify as Cree?
Gabe: For sure, I’m really proud of it. I want to get my red seal and become known as one of the big indigenous chefs in Canada. I talked to Andrew George, (A prolific indigenous chef) and I really want to take one of his courses. The focus is on indigenous cookies and I would love to get into cooking game meat.
Damon: No way! Like you’d be getting into cooking moose, deer? I had no idea that that was a thing!
Gabe: Absolutely, I think it would be awesome to get some of that experience in and get some of my culture at the same time. I’m hoping to get my level one and two here, then go to take his indigenous cooking courses.
Damon: How did you get into cooking? It’s an incredibly intense career, very fast pace.
Gabe: It runs down my family, my grandma actually went to school to be a cook. My kookum taught me a lot, I remember learning how to bake bannock from her. I had a lot of fun in the kitchen, and cooked a lot from my dad growing up. When my dad passed away a few years ago, it really pushed me to have cooking become my career. It reinforced it for me.
Damon: I’m sorry to hear that, especially since you’re so young.
Gabe: Yeah, it was a big barrier to get through but it is what drives me to do what I do. I know my path now, and where I’m going.
Damon: Since you’re a cook, and have experience with I’m sure plenty of food, what’s your favourite dish?
Gabe: For sure italian. Pastas. Feduccini Alfredo.
Damon: That’s what you bring out on your first date?
Gabe: It’s gotta be, it’s an absolute heart melter!
Damon: Getting back on track, can you tell me how your experiences have improved you as a person? Any advice you can give to others aspiring to get into the program?
Gabe: Being a cook is hard. There is a lot of work involved and it gets intense. There are going to be times when you are going to go out back and kick a garbage can for sure. You just have to push through it, understanding that that stress is what will make you who you are in the future. Not everyone is nice in the kitchen, but you gotta set your mind to doing what you have to do to better yourself.
Damon: Well that’s just good advice in general, especially to anyone going through adversity. Not everything is easy.
Gabe: Throughout life, hard things are going to happen. Sometimes there isn’t a way to do it other than just to push through. You have to accept it and move. A large motivation for me was to surround myself with elders, getting into drumming, going to pow-wows. My advice: Get yourself some elders.