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What's New at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts > Alumni Spotlight - Nickolai Braun

Alumni Spotlight - Nickolai Braun

posted on September 14, 2011

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Name:†Nickolai Braun

Graduating Class:†March, 2011

Current Position:†Personal Chef (www.chefinthehouse.ca)

When did you decide you wanted a cooking career? Why?

After working in the Information Technology field for over 25 years in a whole array of capacities (programmer, business analyst, project manager, executive, consultant) and industries, I came to realize I didnít have the desire to continue in this field any longer, because the creative element just wasnít there for me anymore.† Having always loved cooking, learning first from my mother (who had been a private cook to Vancouverís wealthy in the 1930ís) and then from my older brother, I seized an opportunity to realize a dream, and take it to the next step, which meant culinary school.† And the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts seemed the most attractive school to attend.† I wasnít disappointed.† † † † † † † † † † † † † †

What obstacles or challenges did you have to overcome to pursue your career?

There were (and to some extend, still are) two challenges, financial and physical.† The financial obstacle was initially overcome when EI agreed to continue my benefits thru my training period.† Once I declared I was self-employed, those benefits ceased, so now the challenge is to build up my business so that I can pay the bills!† After so many years behind a desk, starting a physically demanding career at 55 has been a challenge as well, but one Iím relishing.† I love the hard work, and actually feel younger and healthier working at the stove, rather than at a desk.† So I guess itís kind of backwards, compared with your usual culinary career, when chefs my age are looking to get unchained from the stove. † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

How did your education at Pacific Institute Of Culinary Arts prepare you for your career?

In every way.† The methods and techniques taught, coupled with the great individual attention received, equipped me with the skills and knowledge to expand my repertoire †††† in any direction I choose.† It gave me the confidence to professionally cook for others.† The operations management† course Chef Tim taught, and the council he provided, not to mention the encouragement received from the other chefs, gave me the confidence to start up my personal chef services business right after graduation.† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

What advice would you give to current or prospective students about having a successful career†in culinary arts?

Have a positive attitude; never be satisfied with your results but always look to turn it out better than the last time; persevere and never give up; trust in your culinary instincts; let love be the number one reason your cooking. † † † † †
† † † † † † † † † † † † † † † † †

Where did you first work after graduation?

I launched my personal chef business right away.† I was planning to work in restaurants for a few years first, but the council my instructors gave was to ďgo for itĒ right away. † † † † † † † † ††


What did you gain from this experience?

I realization that it ainít easy starting your own business!† But its also very rewarding, especially when the clients canít stop talking about the great experience you provided. † † † † † † † †

What do you enjoy most about your career?†

Creating a culinary experience for others that they clearly enjoy.† Being my own boss, and knowing itíll be exactly what I make of it, no more and no less.

Who or what has inspired you?

ALL the chefs at PICA inspired me; every one of them.† †What I found really fascinating was how the experience, especially working with Jean Jacques, gave me a better understanding of my mother!

What are some of the top skills and or attributes that make a successful Chef?

Iím hardly qualified to comment, as I would not yet say Iím successful.† But at this point I will venture to say itís going to be hard work, perseverance, and a positive attitude, all stemming from a deep-seated love of food and its preparation, thatís going to bring success. † † † † ††