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About Us

About Us

Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts has been Vancouver’s top culinary school since 1997. For over 24 years, we’ve been training the next generation of culinary and wine professionals. Our grads have gone on to fulfilling careers as professional chefs, bakery owners, food stylists, media personalities, nutritionists, food scientists, winery professionals and more — and you could be next. 

As Vancouver’s go-to culinary school, we also offer a variety of cooking and wine classes for home cooks, corporate teams and private group functions. For budding wine enthusiasts and aspiring connoisseurs, this includes Levels 1, 2 and 3 of London’s prestigious Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET®) program. 

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Diploma Programs

Our learning environments and training programs are built for your success. Professional diploma and certification programs provide you with in-depth knowledge and techniques that go beyond the kitchen — in six months, you could be ready for the career of your dreams in the food and hospitality industry. 

Grand Diploma Culinary and Baking & Pastry Arts Program

Our most popular program, the Grand Diploma, encompasses intensive training in both culinary and baking and pastry arts for a truly comprehensive education

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Culinary Arts Program

In six months, you’ll gain mastery of the skills, theory and techniques needed to be competitive for range career paths in the fast-moving food industry.

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Baking & Pastry Arts Program

Our Pastry & Baking Arts program combines classic techniques and modern trends to have you ready in six months for the many creative career paths available to you with a professional diploma.

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Grand Diploma + Industry CO-OP Program

Our Grand Diploma + CO+OP is specifically designed for international students and combines our popular Grand Diploma with a one year paid co-op position in industry.

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Faculty

An incredible faculty is the key ingredient to any student’s success. Our chef instructors bring a world of experience to the table. Internationally trained and inspired by some of the world’s renowned chefs and leading culinary establishments, they are committed to developing your creativity, honing your techniques and providing you with the confidence to be industry ready.

Meet our educators

“I tell a student that the most important class you can take is technique. A great chef is first a great technician. If you are a jeweller, or a surgeon or a cook, you have to know the trade in your hand. You have to learn the process. You learn it through endless repetition until it belongs to you.” – Jacques Pepín

Faculty and Staff

BEN KIELY

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor

BEN KIELY

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor

“Passion, strong work ethic and an open mind will bring success.”

Born and raised in Richmond, England, Chef Ben got his start at  culinary school. He apprenticed under Chef Paul Gayler at Lanesborough Hotel Hyde Park and — after a stint at another 5-star hotel in the Canary Islands — gained further experience working for Marco Pierre White Restaurant Group.

Chef Ben has learned from some of Europe’s best and brightest, including Chefs Jacques and Laurent Pourcel in Montpellier, Chef Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester Hotel in London and Chef Paul Bocuse in Lyon.

Chef Ben moved to Vancouver in 2009, where he held positions as Executive Sous Chef at the Sutton Place Hotel and as Head Chef at Caffé dé Medici, a DiRoNA award winner. In 2014, Chef Ben shifted his focus to teaching, through which he aims to help students reach their culinary goals.

Chef Ben especially enjoys cooking whole fish, like mackerel, Arctic char and trout. When it’s his turn to order, he often sticks to classic dishes like Beef Wellington followed by his favorite dessert: Mille Feuille.



KATSUHITO INOUE

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor

KATSUHITO INOUE

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor

“I have been cooking professionally for over 39 years and I haven’t stopped learning. I believe it is my responsibility to pass on my skills, knowledge and passion to the next generation.”

Katsuhito began his culinary career in Japan, attending the prestigious Tsuji Gakuen Japan Cooking School in Osaka. After graduating, he ventured to Canada — first working at Furusato Restaurant in Toronto and then at SushiBar in Montreal.

He returned to Japan to complete an apprenticeship at Suikazura, putting his skillset in French cuisine and pastries to the test, before Toronto called once more — this time to take on the role of Department Head at the Westin Prince Hotel where he worked under Chef Takayama. He then moved west and joined the faculty of Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts in 2003. A PICAchef instructor for 18 years, he is beloved by students, faculty and staff alike.

Chef Katsu loves exploring local markets to find inspiration for the vegan meals he cooks for his family at home. His favorite thing to eat is sushi and he also enjoys sumiyaki, a traditional style of Japanese charcoal-grilled foods.



PHYLLIS TANGA

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor

PHYLLIS TANGA

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor

“Success is no accident. It’s hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all love of what you are doing or learning to do.”

Born and raised in a tight knit Italian family in Toronto, Chef Phyllis’s training started in her mother’s kitchen at a young age. She moved to Vancouver in 1994 and in 1996 began her culinary apprenticeship under Chef Peg Montgomery of the legendary Delilah’s, gaining experience at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club and Mescalero.

Her contributions to Vancouver’s culinary industry have been extensive, through consultative and leadership roles at renowned venues such as Cobre and Les Faux Bourgeois. She spent seven years at Bin 941 and Bin 942, graduating from line cook to Sous Chef and ultimately Chef de Cuisine, and contributing to a six-year streak of Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Award titles from 2001–2006.

Chef Phyllis lists Mexican, Middle Eastern and Southern BBQ as her favorite cuisines to cook — and her proudest achievement to date has been conceptualizing and creating her own business, Mangal Kiss Middle Eastern BBQ, in the early days of the Vancouver food truck scene.

Her favorite meal? Always tacos.



DAVE LETFORD

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor

DAVE LETFORD

Culinary Arts Chef Instructor


“Finding success in this industry is a journey. Surround yourself with likeminded people who will always drive you to be better.”

Ever a creative mind, Chef Dave graduated from culinary school in 2008. His breadth of culinary experience ranges from casual dining with well-known restaurant chains like the Keg, Brown’s Social House and Milestones to his most recent positions as Chef de Partie at one of Canada’s top fine dining restaurants, Hawksworth, and Senior Sous Chef with Hawksworth Catering.

In between, Chef Dave has also held positions at The Flying Pig as well as the tourist-friendly Salmon House on the Hill. His love of all things culinary extends to his spare time as well where he is often found poring over the latest cookbooks and his enthusiasm for the industry is felt by fellow faculty and students alike.

He loves playing with local, seasonal and ethical products to bring new creations to life and his own favorite things to eat include anything with great balance and thoughtful texture. “Salt, fat, acid and heat!” he says.



NATASHA NORTON

Baking & Pastry Arts Chef Instructor

NATASHA NORTON

Baking & Pastry Arts Chef Instructor

“Being a chef has given me some of the most challenging moments in life, and the most rewarding. ”

Chef Natasha started her culinary journey at HTA School of Culinary Arts in her native Johannesburg, South Africa before working her way up the ranks at the Arabella Hotel & Spa and Tintswalo Atlantic Lodge in Cape Town.She then caught the teaching bug and spent a stint away from the kitchen, first at the Chefs Training and Innovation Academy and then at HTA School of Culinary Arts.

When the Four Seasons opened a Johannesburg location, Chef Natasha joined as Chef de Partie and was later promoted to Pastry Sous Chef. In 2016, she crossed the Atlantic to take on the role Chef de Partie at the beautiful Four Seasons Resort and Spa in Whistler. She joined PICA as a Baking & Pastry Arts Instructor in 2018.

Chef Natasha has won two bronze medals at the 2012 IKA Culinary Olympics, a bronze medal at the 2013 Salon Culinaire Mondial and a silver medal at the 2020 IKA Culinary Olympics in Stuttgart, Germany. She currently coaches Culinary Team British Columbia and Junior Culinary Team Canada.

Chef Natasha lists artisan breads, chocolate chip cookies, ice cream and chocolate among her favorite things to make and eat.


Christian Lai-chun

Baking & Pastry Arts Chef Instructor

Christian Lai-chun

Baking & Pastry Arts Chef Instructor

“No words can describe the emotions behind creating the perfect finished product. What makes our craft exciting is that it has no limits!”

Chef Christian was born on the island of Mauritius where he attended culinary school and apprenticed at The Royal Palm Hotel. In 2006, he moved to France to specialize in baking & pastry arts. He worked at Chez Bouillet pastry shop in Lyon, as well as Chez Cordier and Aux Délices d'Etampes near Paris.

Studies complete, he returned to Mauritius as Pastry Chef at two 5-star resorts, the Maritim and Taj Exotica. In 2009, he moved to Toronto where he joined the Ritz Carlton Toronto team and was nominated for the 2013 Greater Toronto Hotel Association Award.

He relocated to Vancouver and joined the faculty at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts’ in 2015. In 2017, Chef Christian was one of only two Canadian pastry chefs and one of just six finalists from across North America at the Valrhona C3 Chocolate Competition in New York. Chocolate is Chef Christian's favorite product to work with as it requires precision and patience.

When cooking for his family, he loves to barbeque and prepare fresh fish. Why fish? - It reminds him of the ocean's abundance in his home country.

Julien Salomoni

Baking & Pastry Arts Chef Instructor

Julien Salomoni

Baking & Pastry Arts Chef Instructor

“As a pastry chef, there’s nothing more relevant and pleasurable than seeing how you have fulfilled people with happiness.”

Chef Julien was raised on homemade food and quickly fell in love with the joy of baking and cooking.

A native of Paris, Chef Julien graduated from CEPROC, where he studied under pastry chef instructor Bruno Ciret. He gained experience working in pastry shops and restaurants around the world, including Au Rocher de Cancale and Renoma Café in Paris, and TWG Tea in Singapore.

In 2017, he was recruited for the first Canadian location of TWG Tea in Vancouver. Julien later moved to Au Comptoir, where he led his team to win the 2019 Vancouver Magazine Silver Award for Best Dessert Restaurant. Chef Julien believes in constant learning and credits his mentor, Alexis Lorel, for teaching him the rules of pastry and sharing a lifelong passion.

Chef Julien has a hard time picking favorites, but loves baking traditional desserts such as the tarte aux pommes, the fraisier, the opera, the Paris Brest and the Saint Honoré. His favorite meals are nostalgic and include his grandmother’s strawberry rhubarb jam and his mother’s slow-cooked Boeuf Bourguignon.




Alumni Industry Achievements

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