Official Liaison College Blog

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

A Culinary Journey

A career path can often be a bumpy and winding road filled with potholes of diversion and traffic jams of a busy life.  Meet Nadine Day:  mother, wife, daughter, entrepreneur, author and, ultimately, foodie.  And coincidentally or not, it was her father’s actual journey down a famous trail that lead her to where she is today.


Nadine is a graduate of Applied Human Sciences majoring in Nutrition and completed her  university educational experience as an intern at a hospital.  But not long after completing her family (a robust group of entrepreneurs of immigrant roots), with her mother at the helm, opened a small gardening boutique.  Nadine set out to add a cafĂ© to the little shop and started with a 30 seat cozy outlet featuring healthy and nutritional foods.  Nadine’s father, also a true entrepreneur, meanwhile was involved in many different projects.


In 2002 Nadine decided to take her love of cooking and baking to a more professional level and enrolled with Liaison College.  To her surprise, when she started classes, her Aunt was also enrolled in the same program.  The interesting twists on this path would continue.


While Nadine attended Culinary Arts training, she also worked part time for the City of Toronto in the “Eat Healthy” program.  Nadine was responsible for recipe development and nutritional counselling to a program that aimed to entice Torontonians to make healthy eating choices and maintain a healthy lifestyle.  But it was also during this time that Nadine realized that Chef Instructor, Simon Day, was a kindred spirit and when she completed her training program they started a romantic relationship.  They married a year later.


Nadine was working at what seemed to be her dream job at the flagship Loblaw Headquarters in Mississauga.  Her role was product development in the ground-breaking Blue Menu division where Loblaw’s was making convenience foods healthy, nutritional and most of all tasty.  Nadine thrived at this position.  Maternity leave intervened and upon her return Nadine worked as a dietician for the same firm.  Using all of her combined skills and knowledge was extremely rewarding.  As one of 15 in her department, Nadine worked with food all day long and relied on her food science meets culinary arts to create wonderful dishes that we enjoy at home today.  As well she was instrumental in the Guiding Stars program where Loblaw used algorithms to analyse the nutritional density of foods.


But Nadine’s restless spirit and foodie enthusiasm has kept her busy on the side.  She has developed recipes for Heart and Stroke and was able to do so from home while tending her young family.  Nadine wrote two cookbooks published by Robert Rose around healthy baby food as well as another publication for Health Canada around native cookery.  Since her favourite time is family time at the dinner table, she is busy contemplating her next book on family cooking and family gatherings.


Today Nadine is the operator and proprietor of Hacienda Sarria.  The story about this leads us back to her father’s journey, along with her brother, on the famous El Camino trail in Spain.  While trekking on the legendary pass through Spain, Nadine’s father was overcome with fatigue.  He stopped in a small village to rest a while and even considered abandoning the rest of the journey.  Suddenly a local resident appeared from her house and, noticing his discomfort, ushered him inside to ease his pain.  She fed them, comforted them, encouraged them and showed an unbelievable and improbable hospitality.  Nadine’s father would never forget this experience.


Upon his return to Canada he set out on a mission to re-create the feeling of overwhelming peace and satisfaction that he felt in Sarria.  And so Hacienda Sarria was born.

Out of a defunct and abandoned factory in Waterloo Ontario, Nadine’s father painstakingly recreated the ambience and character from the place in Sarria where hospitality was utterly genuine.  The idea was to live in this paradise, but it was soon apparent that this mansion of vision was an ideal banquet centre.  And the ever-present entrepreneurial spirit took over.


Medieval, romantic and charming the Hacienda Sarria is breathtaking.  Mere photographs cannot justify the magnitude of the beautifully manicured lawns, the imposing iron doorways, the lavish tile flooring and other details of the fixtures.  And here, in this magical place, Nadine hosts corporate events, banquets and, the specialty, weddings.  Starting only a few years ago, Nadine has more than tripled the wedding bookings and now employs two full time wedding planners.  In her community spirit, Nadine also sponsors the Nutrition Learning program in the Waterloo Region. 


When paths intersect and cross and meet, wonderful things can happen.  Nadine’s career journey is definitely not over.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sippin at the Dock of the Bay III

For the past four years we have been focused on an annual event to raise funds for the Liaison College Youth Success Fund.  The project was born after Rudy Florio, President of Liaison College, attended a Gang Exit Strategy Graduation at the John Howard Society (JHS) in Hamilton, ON.  The young people who were overcoming and handling extreme barriers and obstacles in their relatively short lives made a huge impact on Rudy Florio and he approached David Lane to find out what could be done to help give the community's youth a hand up.  And so the Liaison College Youth Success Fund was created.

The JHS offers many different community programs for youth, but their most successful includes an outreach through high schools and the "circle program" where teens can meet with peers and an advocate from the JHS to talk about issues that are meaningful to them.  It's a self directed meeting program that is voluntary and available to anyone that chooses to attend.  There is no judgement, no criticism, no right or wrong - it's a safe place to come and share thoughts and ideas and what's on your mind. 
It was through this venue that the first Liaison Youth Success Fund recipient was chosen.  And two more quickly followed.

Now, four years later, there are several students receiving annual scholarship funding through the Liaison Youth Success Fund and some will even be graduating next year with a degree or diploma.  The effects of their success will be felt throughout our community and will continue to ripple for years to come. 
For the third year in a row we have held the event at the Macassa Bay Yacht Club in Hamilton - hence the "Sippin at the Dock of the Bay" theme.  In 2012 and 2013 the event was modified slightly to accommodate Mother Nature (both years she created a mini monsoon for us to work around!).  This year (having moved the date of the event one week later than in the past) we were blessed with a lovely, sunny, warm day and evening.  Perfect for sippin'!
Our goal for this year was $30K - a bit aggressive and a substantial increase from the first year.  But by all accounts very doable with the right chemistry:  sponsors, prizes for auctions, ticket sales and attendance.  We exceeded the goal!
There are so many people, companies, groups and friends to thank.  And so we do - THANK YOU!

Monday, April 28, 2014

As Sure As i Can Be - A Graduate Success Story

Sandra Bruton has a passion.  Actually, she has several passions and they all intertwine beautifully and deliciously in her healthy food venture:  Sure Chef

It started in high school.  Sandra wanted to enhance her passion for cookery – a passion, by the way, that she developed from her mother, a Chef (and founder of Sure Chefs).  Sandra enrolled for the culinary program at Liaison College in Barrie.  Because the classes at Liaison College are half days, Sandra was able to complete her high school diploma in the afternoons while studying culinary arts in the mornings.  Then, after school, she would dash to her co-op job as a dishwasher.  Her life was busy and very much leading her on a lifelong journey.

At this point, Sandra’s culinary career goal was to bake and specialize in the pastry arts.  But her body didn’t agree with that at all; she was over-sugared and under-weight and generally unhealthy (which caused her to also be unhappy).  It wasn’t long before Sandra took another turn in the culinary road.  The solution to her career and health issues was clear:  study nutrition.  Which she did (at the Canadian School of Nutrition) and that lead to a new appreciation of food and chemicals and how the body processes what we feed it.  

After high school, Sandra moved to Egypt where her mom. brother and step father had moved (he’s an engineer that works abroad a lot).  Sandra worked in her mom’s catering business while her brother attended an elite private school.  The new outlook for nutrition opened her eyes in many ways.  She was overwhelmed by the obesity and health issues around the kids at her brother’s school; an elite school with world class facilities and the kids were lethargic and over-weight.  Her newfound passion for nutrition combined with her existing passion for cooking started another passion:  helping people learn about what they eat and how to prepare it.  The first class of Sure Chefs was established as a summer camp and kids learned about healthy choices and how to prepare the foods to their liking to stimulate the craving for healthy options that provided energy and nutrients to growing bodies.  The feedback was outstanding.  Sandra had found her ultimate passion!

Unfortunately the revolution in Egypt ended the journey and Sandra ultimately moved again to join family in Argentina.  It was here that she started the “Mom and Kids Picky Eater” program.  Where kids would take healthy food and make it three ways – writing down every recipe and noting which method they liked best.  By the end of the classes, each student completed the program with a complete cookbook of recipes that they had written.  This outcome reinforced Sandra’s belief that kids will eat food that they have prepared and if it is food they like it’s even better.

Now back in Canada Sandra has continued her journey of passion.  She is presently hosting Junior Sure Chef classes at Liaison College in Etobicoke with great success.  She is the host of a community TV show featuring her ideas on super foods, kids, cooking and healthy eating/living.  But her passion has spurred her on to really make a difference:  Sandra is writing a grant proposal for a Sure Chef food truck.  The food truck would enable her to go to all schools in Ontario and teach kids how to make good food taste great and choose a healthy menu.  With her food truck she could train 120 kids per day and do an entire school in a week.  She would focus on allergies and other dietary concerns all the while showing kids how easy it is to make healthy food choices and prepare for themselves.  In addition she would like to start a series of classes for Mom’s who are plagued with the lunch making phobia – we all know someone who dreads the school year only because of the chore of making lunches (that don’t get eaten if they are not palatable).  There’s also the Teen Series where teens will focus on body issues (even skin conditions can be helped with diet) and self-esteem while loving food and its preparation.  That’s just for starters.  Her Facebook page “Sure Chefs” is chock full of helpful ideas and recipes, too.

This lovely, bright-eyed young lady is passionate about her craft and wants to share it.  Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious; that’s for Sure.