Mary Beazer and St. Joseph High School chef Nathin Bye. Photo from Mary Beazer

Serving a dish of passion with a side of initiative

By  Anastasia Corkery, Youth Speak News
  • July 20, 2022

Alberta teen Mary Beazer is off to a sizzling start in pursuing her passion to become a professional chef.

In June, she captured gold in the culinary arts category at the national 2022 Secondary Virtual Skills Canada Competition. Through this triumph, she has been offered a university scholarship at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT)  and mentorship cooking placement under chef Paul Shufelt.

She said these opportunities and accomplishments would not be possible but for her initiative, hard work and self-discipline.   

Although Beazer now loves cooking, she was not always so inclined toward mastering baking, dicing, sautéeing and more.

“As a kid, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest (in cooking) on my part,” she said.

But the ritual of enjoying lively meals in her family of seven was a source of constant joy and ultimately inspiration.

“We would have big family dinners and it was a good way to bring people together and learn about the food you’re having.”

She noted the influence of family recipes, saying that “being able to share that for people (is) what really made me want to do it.”

One such family recipe she enjoys making is a festive mincemeat tart. 

It was really during her Grade 12 year at St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Edmonton when Beazer decided to give this vocation a more serious focus. She took the initiative by joining the culinary team.

Her decision to nurture her budding talent was validated after she entered the virtual High School Culinary Challenge (HSCC) hosted by the Edmonton chapter of the Canadian Culinary Federation. Her chicken dish prevailed in the entrée category. She sent her recipe, work plan, pictures of her culinary process and final plate, as well a summary detailing the experience of making the dish to the judges for consideration.

This success catapulted into a chance to enter the HSCC scholarship program. She won it and a restaurant placement mentorship under leading Albertan culinary expert Shufelt, currently the chef and proprietor of Workshop Eatery in Edmonton.

Her banner year was not done yet.

She finished first in the Skills Alberta contest and then competed virtually, under the eyes of many cameras, in National Skills Canada. Through her execution of a three-course meal — an omelette, mushroom soup and stuffed chicken supreme — she prevailed again, defeating competitors from three other provinces.

Passion, nor talent alone, carried her. Her father Duane told of how his daughter would devote “three to four hours a day” in the school kitchen as well as “an extra three hours a day for the culinary competition.” She rigourously applied herself through summer school to make this schedule possible.

Beazer shared her family’s philosophy behind her discipline and initiative: “If you’re brave nothing bad happens.”

With these accomplishments under her belt, Beazer hopes the tutelage she will receive at NAIT and from Shufelt will lead her to one day owning her own business. She is driven to “focus on family recipes,” and striving to share the history of the Beazer clan through her cooking.

(Corkery, 20, is entering her fourth year of studying English at Redeemer University in Hamilton, Ont.)

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