“Puckered Faces” by Kyle Tillotson

UBC teacher candidates participate in a 3-week Community Field Experience (CFE) with the Intergenerational Landed Learning Project. Inspired by their experiences in the children’s garden, they explore curriculum development in their own disciplines.

This post is from Kyle Tillotson, a secondary teacher candidate in Culinary Arts.

There was so much material for reflection from this past week that it has been difficult to decide on a topic to focus on—what a wonderful predicament! One particular event has had me thinking from the moment it occurred, however, so I’ve decided to go with that. But first, some context.

While I was doing my apprenticeship as a cook here in Vancouver, I had the privilege of working with a guy named Alex. He was one of my first mentors, someone who really cared about me and my continuing education pertaining to all things culinary. A former apprentice of chef Michael Stadtländer—the German-born pioneer of farm-to-table cooking here in Canada—Alex shared with me his passion for looking to local ingredients and environments as the starting point for making decisions about food.

One of the things I remember him saying one day in Spring was, something to the effect of, “Why don’t we use rhubarb juice instead of lemon juice?” I don’t think that I realized it at the time, but watching the kids eat some raw rhubarb this past week (and laughing at their puckered faces) brought this really intriguing question back to mind.

It has been my goal for some time now, to create a Chef Education course at the secondary level that really takes its cues from the what is available locally and seasonally; one of the hurdles to a more complete integration of these ideals in BC has always been the attachment many of us have to culturally meaningful, but imported, ingredients such as olive oil, black pepper, and lemons.

The following is a first-draft concept for a project (grade 12 initially) that seeks to familiarize students with local ingredients and the people who raise/ grow them, while also developing the discipline needed to develop and apply a framework that will aid them in their task.


  1. Teacher and students preface activity with a discussion around local food systems and movements
  2. Teacher then opens the activity to the students by stating and discussing the end goal: to replace (as far as possible) imported ingredients with local alternatives, including actionable sourcing
  3. Students would then be responsible for determining the appropriate steps to be taken (using some sort of cyclical inquiry or design framework)
  4. Students required to document this process, meeting with the teacher at various points to check-in
  5. Students present their findings to the class, including the creation of a dish using their ingredient
  6. If viable, teacher makes the substitution for whatever duration is possible. This requires a firm commitment to following through with the change in order to sustain the desired integration as described in the paragraph above.

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