These three passions have led to the formation of SkilPad Cooks. A skilpad is a tortoise, a land-based creature that carries its house everywhere it goes and is known for its success in making haste slowly. Similarly, our motorhome carries its house within and progresses more slowly on the highways than jackrabbit vehicles.
Living and working in our motorhome – which we call “SkilPad” (or sometimes, “Tortoise”) - has led to an increased appreciation of the importance of basic cooking techniques that can be utilized wherever we are and that we don’t need lots of fancy (and expensive) equipment to prepare healthy, economical, and delicious meals. Hence our emphasis on “Techniques not Toys”.
My introduction to cooking in unique spaces came early in life working summers as a teenager on a Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker as it crossed the Arctic Circle – and then as a university student running dining cars for the Canadian National Railway. I’ve taught culinary skills for people with mental and physical handicaps in rural Alberta and with secondary students in Toronto who may sometimes be described as “marginalized”. I’ve also cooked for the Pope and for a former Prime Minister of Canada.
Trained as an educator, chef, ESL instructor, creator of co-operative learning opportunities, and a bluegrass musician, I obtained my teaching degree and graduate diploma in community education from UBC. I’ve taught in 4 provinces in Canada as well as in Nigeria, Japan, and Hong Kong and am honoured to be have been recognized in 2007 as the best secondary school teacher in Ontario – and for receiving the Award of Merit for Parkland County School District in Alberta in 1994.
Every five years or so I’ve taken advantage of sabbatical opportunities for round-the-world travels including one year studying in Italy to earn the graduate diploma in Italian Culinary Arts from George Brown Chef School and ALMA (La Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana). As the first silver-haired student in the history of the George Brown Chef School, I made it very clear with my instructors that I wanted to apply my newly-acquired knowledge to help others strengthen their own culinary and life skills – and not open a restaurant!
And that’s exactly what clients tell us is the special ingredient in SkilPad Cooks – we focus on what you want to learn and then customize a hands-on learning opportunity to enable you to apply your new skills immediately and increase your quality of life.