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5 Questions with Chef Shai Mandel

"I’d like to see more innovation and out of the box methods being used with regards to how we educate children and teens."


Chef Shai Mandel has been working in kitchens her whole life, having a passion for food and cooking since childhood. Shai has held various positions in all aspects of the industry from pastry and large quantity production, to fine dining. During her career as a chef, Shai had the opportunity to train many people in various positions. It was through this training that she discovered not only her passion for cooking, but her passion for teaching. Shai had a vision of opening her own children’s cooking school in Toronto. This dream became a reality with the birth of Rooks to Cooks.


How do you see the industry in 6 months? Where do you see yourself in 6 months?


SM: I see the need for virtual learning expanding even more than the present. Rooks to Cooks strives to be there for our families as their needs change, and also be there for schools who want to join us in the fight to bring culinary education back to the school system. I see myself working with schools to develop innovative curriculum that focuses on equipping youth with integral life skills with making strong co-curricular ties. 

Often positive changes can arise from hardship, What would you like to see come out of 2020?


SM: I would like to see values shift from traditional schooling to more practical schooling. As a teacher and chef, I see first hand the value of teaching children traditional subjects through more hands on/practical ways. Ex. how to cook which is just one life skill. They learn math, language, science, art, history & geography all through learning to cook. I’d like to see more innovation and out of the box methods being used with regards to how we educate children and teens. 


What have you been doing to stay creative?


SM: I have been cooking and recipe testing a lot for all the new virtual programs i’ve launched recently. Prior to the pandemic, our business was primarily summer cooking camps. As such most of our recipes were optimal for the summer season. Now that we’re running fall, winter and spring virtual programs, I have needed to write all new recipes! 


What can we, the people of Toronto, do to help?

SM: Register for our virtual programs and help us spread the word! 


Who is someone who is doing something you love right now and why?


SM: Camp Tournesol is the leader in French summer camps throughout the GTA, offers a multitude of exciting programs including French day summer camps, French overnight camps, and out-of-province trips. Despite the hardships we are all going through, they have made it a priority to give back to their community through subsidizing spots in their programs and donating to other organizations. I really appreciate all their efforts and commend them on finding a way to get through and give back coincidently. 


Sign up for Rooks to Cooks' workshops at this year's Toronto Food Film Fest:


Maple Dijon Glazed Salmon - Sat

Saturday, Oct 17th 5:00pm – 6:30pm


Maple Dijon Glazed Salmon - Sun

Sunday, Oct 18th 5:00pm – 6:30pm


Vegetarian Pho - Sat

Saturday, Oct 24th 5:00pm – 6:30pm


Vegetarian Pho - Sun

Sunday, Oct 25th 5:00pm – 6:30pm

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