Several years ago, Prince Rupert resident Patrick Alexcee made a foray down to the Lower Mainland with his girlfriend and landed a job at a hotel. While the relationship didn’t last, something permanent took hold: the kindling of a desire to forge a career in the kitchen, with the ultimate goal of becoming a chef and restaurateur.
Alexcee’s original job was an entry-level dishwasher at the Rhombus Hotel in Chilliwack (now the Coast Chilliwack Hotel). During his year-long stint there, however, he was allowed to dabble as a breakfast cook. That’s when he became hooked. Returning north, he enrolled in the Professional Cook program at the Northwest Community College in Terrace, BC, and has already completed the first level of apprenticeship training: Professional Cook 1. Now, as he saves his tuition fees for the next level of study, he is currently working as 3rd Cook under executive chef Willy Beaudry at the Waterfront Restaurant in the prestigious Crest Hotel in Prince Rupert. “Under Chef Beaudry, I’m learning a lot about fresh ingredients, food safety, the look and presentation of dishes, and the teamwork it takes to be successful in the kitchen,” he says.
A typical shift for Alexcee begins at 7:00 a.m. and ends at 3:00 p.m., spanning both breakfast and lunch service. As a prep cook, it’s his job to ensure that his team of four has everything it needs to meet the fast pace of the kitchen and the demand of their clientele, which can range from hotel guests to large groups of cruise ship passengers visiting for a few hours. “I work on breakfast, filling in for the cooks when they go on break, and then I prepare the line for the lunch rush, setting out everything we’ll need,” he says. “After lunch, we get the kitchen ready to hand it over to the dinner shift.” Alexcee thrives on the pressure and attention to detail the job requires. “There’s a lot to learn — things like knife skills. You have to be efficient and quick in a workplace like this. You can always learn to be quicker and be smarter about the way you do things without cutting corners.”
The experience so far has been a positive one, reinforcing his belief that he has made the right career choice. “I would like to own my own restaurant in Prince Rupert someday,” he says, already envisioning a menu that, with his Nisga’a First Nations background, will honour Indigenous British Columbian cuisine, with an emphasis on seafood. That said, “I’m told I’m really good at making pulled pork sandwiches,” he says with a laugh, “so that might be on my menu too.” Meanwhile, his ongoing work under Chef Beaudry allows him to hone his skills as he prepares for the next level of training and apprenticeship: Professional Cook 2.