Josh Gonneau – Chef Instructor at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA), Canada
Josh Gonneau is Chef Instructor at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts (PICA) in Canada. PICA is considered Vancouver’s leading culinary centre offering cooking classes, cake decorating classes and diplomas. We chat to him about the growing importance of seasonality in cooking and the Vancouver dining scene.
A Chef portraif of Josh Gonneau
by Victoria Burrows
Josh, you teach cooking now but used to be a full-time chef and restaurant owner. Please tell us a little about your culinary journey.
I grew up just north of Toronto ON, and spent most of my career in private clubs and hotels after getting my start at a small country inn close to home.
After some executive chef positions, I decided to branch out on my own and open my own place, called Land and Fire, a local kitchen. In 10 months, we had 5* ratings on every site we were on. But we struggled to make ends meet and, unfortunately, decided to close.
That’s how I ended up out west and ultimately at Cibo Trattoria and UVA cocktail and wine bar, which is where I spent a year and a half prior to Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.
As a chef instructor, do you specialise in a certain cooking style or need to be skilled in a wide range of cooking techniques?
My job is to guide the students in the “advanced” part of their training in a restaurant setting. We are French technique but there’s room to explore other cuisines as well.
Please tell us some more about PICA – how long have you been there? How many students are there? What is it known for?
I have only been at PICA for about three months. It’s a small school focusing on really making people industry ready. It’s small class sizes (max 15 students) and has been Vancouver’s best cooking school five years in a row.
Have you seen the general approach to cooking change over the years in any way?
I think over the years there has been a much bigger focus on sustainability. This, of course, has made me think and affected my cooking style/theory as well. Cooking seasonally and close to home isn’t a style anymore – “local” is just the way it should be.
You’re also Chef Ambassador to West Coast Wild Scallops – what does this involve?
West Coast Wild Scallops is a small family company with a big passion for sustainable fishing. They have an incredible product and I’m a big fan. Currently I do some recipes for them, as well as social media posts, and try to support and educate about when I can. I also cook with them for any events.
Please tell us a little about the dining scene in Vancouver.
The dining scene in Vancouver is incredible. There are definitely California influences, with a lot of Asian twists. There are some great fine dining restaurants but also tons of “hole in the wall” hidden gems.
Whatever you are craving is here, and a lot of young, talented chefs are pushing the envelope on creativity.
Thank you, Chef Josh, and all the best for continued success with your students and scallops.
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