Hot Mama

A professional chef and baker reveals how she balances life as a wife, mother, and cook.

By Norah Myers

Angela Baschuk has worked as a chef and baker for more than 13 years. After she finished high school in 1997, she enrolled in Red River College’s culinary arts two-year program. She had previously worked at a fast food restaurant, but she still considered herself pretty green. ‘I had no habits to break,’ she says.

Angela had always enjoyed cooking and she went into the profession knowing she wanted to have both a career and a family. “I had a plan,” she says. “I knew that when I had a family I didn’t want to try and juggle both a crazy, busy, intense, work life with family life. I knew I wanted to have a job where I could go, be fully there in mind and body, but then when my shift was over I wouldn’t have to worry about anything or think about work until my next shift. I wanted my time at home to be just that: time with my family and to focus on them. I wanted to put my kids to bed at night, not just kiss their foreheads as they were sleeping when I got home late at night.”

Her plan worked and she has been able to achieve that balance. “I have great hours, good pay, great vacation time and I am able to have the family time that I want.”

Angela did two work terms as part of her training while in culinary school. She did prep work and cooked food at Elmhurst golf course and stayed on with Elmhurst until she started her second work term at Vivere, where she also did prep work and cooking. She remained at Vivre after she graduated from Red River College with honours in 1999.

She then worked as a prep cook at the Winnipeg Squash and Racquet Club and as a cook at Market 520. Angela’s next job was as both a cook and baker for Fusion Grill. She stayed there for two years, putting in the work time needed to complete her apprenticeship. She also worked as a personal chef for a family who enjoyed the meals she’d made at Fusion Grill. She then transferred her job at Pineridge Hollow.

She served as Pineridge Hollow’s pastry chef for four years, during which she wrote her Red Seal test, and was later head chef there for two years before she had her first baby, Lily, in 2008. She took a job as a sous chef at Woodland Courts, a seniors’ residence in Selkirk in 2009 until her daughter Violet was born in 2011.

Angela has just returned from maternity leave and is happy to be working again. “Family comes first,” she says, but in addition to being a mother she enjoys her job. “I like to work. I like what I do.”

At Woodland Courts, Angela works under a head chef and plans and prepares lunches and dinners, plans menus, helps the head chef with paperwork, hires new staff and reviews existing staff. She has held higher positions but enjoys the flexibility of her current position because she can devote her time and love to her husband and daughters.

In addition to theoretical training, practical experience, certification, and natural talent in the kitchen, Angela says, “you should be in the mindset to work hard, want to learn from the great teachers, be up for challenges and have passion.”

Daughter Lily, now nearly four, helps with measuring ingredients for baking and likes to stick her thumb in a measuring cup full of sugar so she can have a taste. Sweetness and a natural talent with food run in the family.

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