Bernard Casavant

Mike Jackson | Evan Adams | Michelle Bryant | Candis Callison | Ian Campbell | Bernard Casavant | Stacey Edzerza | Lenny Fisher | Dave Griffin | Trevor A. Joe | Tewanee Joseph | Rose Lesner | Duncan McCue | Carey Newman | Cherie Joy Rochelle Peal | Jason Rock | Lisa Sam

Bernard Casavant knew in junior high school that he was going to be a chef. By grade ten he was cooking in restaurants part-time and saving so that he could afford to go to school. He wanted to drop out in grade 11 and go cook. But his grandmother, who he grew up with on the Opetcheshat reserve in his teens, wouldn’t hear of him not graduating.

“I knew I didn’t need a lot of the courses. But in retrospect, I wish I had paid more attention in a lot of them. They help in life – financial skills, planning, budgeting, human resource skills, typing, foreign cultures, languages…”

In high school, he was already taking every ‘home ec’ course. He was the only guy in the classes, and his teacher Miss Emily didn’t initially believe that he was there to learn. But he was top student, won every award possible, and went on to the Culinary Arts Program at Malsapina College. That was in 1976. He’s the only one from his class who’s still cooking.

By 18 he was sous-chef at a hotel in Regina, and he took over the chef’s position a month after his 20th birthday.

He was already Executive Chef in Calgary when he turned down an offer to be Regional Corporate Chef – “I said ‘Sorry – I have to learn how to cook”

He got his Journeyman’s Certificate, then his IP red seal. After about ten years of cooking, he was ready take the course and the tests for highest qualification – the CCC – Certified Chef de Cuisine. In fact, Bernard was one of the original members- one of the first dozen to do this top chef’s certification in BC .

From restaurant chef at a top Vancouver hotel, to fine dining chef for Expo 86, to many years as chef with the Chateau Whistler Resort — he now has his very own place – Bernard’s CafĂ© in Whistler . He also owns a beer and wine store, and a little pub.

Stepping Stones
How did you get to where you are now?Bernard Casavant

Bernard did self-assessment tests to help him figure out what kind of careers he might do. The results were
1st choice- professional soccer player
2nd choice – phys. ed. Instructor
3rd choice – chef
Bernard talked through his options with his uncle and his grandmother before deciding to become a chef – and he’s still doing it, 27 years later!

Thinking About School
“Persevere and finish school. Do at least a year of further post secondary in some format after grade 12. Spend some quality time with counseling – whether at home or in school – and making an educated decision with what you want you do ” “Believe in yourself. If you really decide that you want to be a chef or an artist or a public nurse, go with it. Give it your best effort, and do it. It’s not going to be an easy journey but it you believe in it, it will happen.”
– Bernard

Copyright 2012 First Nations Education Steering Committee and First Nations Schools Association